The Supreme Court at sunset.

The United States Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the EPA does not have the power to regulate carbon dioxide from power plants without congressional approval.

The ruling is likely to have wide-ranging implications for federal agencies looking to protect public health under bedrock laws like the Clean Air Act, since it almost completely disrupted any major plans to fight climate change at the federal level in the U.S. The court is likely to rule in other environmental cases.

The vote was 6 to 3 with three of the court's liberals voting against it. Congress did not give the EPA authority to regulate emissions as it designed the Clean Power Plan, according to the Chief Justice.

Roberts wrote that the states were injured since the rule required them to regulate power plant emissions.

Elena Kagan wrote that the court had stripped the EPA of its power to respond to the most pressing environmental challenge of our time.

One of the most conservative Supreme Courts in history made a series of major policy reversals, including a devastating reversal on abortion rights. It isn't donewreaking havoc on public health just yet

What is West Virginia vs. EPA?

There are a lot of reasons why this case is strange, and it has been a winding road of confusing legal moves. Several attorneys general from Republican states and two coal companies brought a case against the EPA as it worked on its own rule to replace the Clean Power Plan.

The Clean Power Plan, which proposed to reduce emissions from the power sector by setting reduction targets that states would have needed to meet, never actually went into effect. In the waning days of the Trump administration, a federal judge repealed the rejection of the Clean Power Plan and Trump's weak replacement for the policy.

There is currently no EPA regulation of the power sector on the books. The idea of what the agency can do under the Clean Air Act is what leads to the Supreme Court case. The fact that the conservative Court took up this case against a theoretical policy and ruled in favor of the plaintiffs signals that it is more willing to take an active hand in dismantling federal agencies ability to regulate.

Lisa Graves, who served in the U.S. Department of Justice and now runs True North Research, said that this is a court that has never done anything like this before. The Court is trying to take away the EPA's power from federal policy.

Why is the court’s ruling important?

The legislative branch is in charge of regulating emissions from the power sector. Congress would be able to pass laws that would direct the EPA to regulate emissions in a well- functioning democracy. Climate action in Congress has been dead in the water for more than a decade. This was a core part of the plan of the special interests.

Graves said that the court is not nave. The majority knows that Republicans have blocked every major effort to mitigate climate change. Some of the same forces that are behind the amicus briefs have been able to prevent Congress from crafting new laws to address this.

The interests in this case are powerful. The Americans for Prosperity Foundation, which has been a force in spreading climate denial, is one of the organizations included in the amicus briefs. Graves said that Charles Koch was a notable driving force in creating the conditions for this case. Many of the judges sitting on the court were nominated by campaigns funded by pro-pollution donors This landmark ruling may be just the beginning of their attempts to give even more free stuff to the people who cause pollution.

Graves said that the case represents a victory for right-wing infrastructure that has been funded by Koch and other anonymous donors to try and strip away the power of federal agencies.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated as new information becomes available.