Environmental laws could face new hurdles at Supreme Court with Barrett

Kavanaugh, for example, criticized the Clean Air Act, calling it “thin legislation” in a 2016 case involving the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era rule aimed at reducing emissions from the electricity sector.

“Even if he’s willing to defer to some of what certain agencies do, it won’t be the EPA, it won’t be the climate, it won’t be anything like that,” Sokol said of of Kavanaugh, adding that the likely swing the vote on environmental affairs can be expected to be against agencies tasked with protecting the environment, such as the EPA.

Rob Verchick, an environmental law professor who teaches in New Orleans at Loyola and Tulane universities, said Kavanaugh is committed to deference to agencies that deal with economic or financial issues. “But when it comes to agencies charged with promoting government safeguards, whether in the workplace, in the environment, in the air, in the water and in the communities, he tends to be very suspicious,” Verchick said in an interview. .

“There’s a battle on the ground right now about how much deference, how much trust should be given to an agency,” he said. “And I think Gorsuch and a few others are kind of wondering whether or not the court should give any deference to the agencies, regardless of their expertise.”

Trump has been open about appointing judges who fit the conservative legal mold of Scalia, which was generally dismissive of climate science.