WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court appeared divided on Monday over the sole Obama administration program already in place to limit power plant and factory emissions of gases blamed for global warming.
The justices took on a small and complicated piece of the politically charged issue of cutting greenhouse gas emissions in an extended argument that included references to Dunkin' Donuts stores, football games and light bulbs. The examples were meant to illustrate the vast potential reach of the program, in its critics' view, or its limited nature, as the administration argued.
The court's liberal justices seemed comfortable with the scope of an Environmental Protection Agency permitting program that applies to companies that want to expand facilities or build new ones that would increase overall pollution. Under the program, the companies must evaluate ways to reduce the carbon they release. Carbon dioxide is the chief greenhouse gas.
However, conservative members of the bench indicated they're skeptical of the EPA's authority, with Justice Anthony Kennedy as the probable decisive vote.
One potentially narrow outcome would preserve the bulk of the program for facilities that already emit other pollutants that are regulated by the EPA.