June 28, 2024 | Cliff Majersik

The Supreme Court’s decision today overturning SCOTUS’s 1984 ruling in Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council is a substantial blow to federal action and will likely have far-reaching effects on regulatory authority, including that on needed climate policies. Going forward, it will make actions by Federal and other agencies—which have been delegated rulemaking power under federal law—more vulnerable to lawsuits. 

The silver lining is that the SCOTUS decision does not affect interpretation of state and local laws, including important laws like building performance standards (BPS) aimed at decarbonizing buildings.

State courts decide rules of interpretation for state statutes. So, today’s decision will not affect how state courts interpret state laws. In the years to come, some conservative state courts may eventually hear similar cases and use similar reasoning as the Supreme Court to arrive at similar conclusions, but most courts will not follow SCOTUS’s lead in bucking decades of precedent.

Further, the recent Ninth Circuit California Restaurant Association vs. City of Berkeley decision regarding preemption by the federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) does not involve Chevron deference and so will not be affected by today’s decision. As explained in this blog, BPS are safe against EPCA preemption.

So, today’s SCOTUS decision will have the effect of shifting key actions, including that on building decarbonization, from the federal to the state and local levels. Five states and eight localities have already adopted building performance standards. In addition to those 13, more than 30 others have vowed to adopt equitable BPS by joining the National Building Performance Coalition. IMT assists Coalition members including by creating a Model BPS Law to harmonize around best practices.

Now, more than ever, we must look to federal, state, and local collaboration for climate leadership.



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