The recent ruling by the Unites States Supreme Court in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency is a major setback in the global fight to address climate change.
Here are three good reads on the issue…
The Supreme Court just seriously limited the government’s ability to fight climate change
To avoid the worst impacts of climate change, the world has less than a decade to cut emissions roughly in half. But Congress hasn’t managed to pass climate legislation yet. And at a time when the head of the United Nations has warned that the world is “sleepwalking to climate catastrophe,” the Supreme Court just limited the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate emissions from power plants.
The case, West Virginia vs. EPA, brought by Republican attorneys general from 19 states (joined by coal companies), came after years of conservative strategizing. It’s an attack on climate action. But it’s also a more general attack on the federal government’s ability to enact regulation. “It could have reverberations far beyond just the Clean Air Act,” Andres Restrepo, an attorney for the Sierra Club, part of a coalition of groups on the opposing side of the case, said in advance of the ruling.
The Supreme Court’s climate decision came out of a decades-long campaign to kneecap regulation
The Supreme Court did not arrive at this pivotal moment by chance. For decades, ultra-wealthy conservative donors, libertarian think tanks, and their allies within the Republican Party have orchestrated a campaign to thwart the federal government’s efforts to regulate corporations — including efforts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, which threaten the profits of the fossil fuel industry. Over the years, they have paid considerable attention to the judiciary, methodically installing conservative judges in anticipation of a case that could kneecap agencies they view as overstepping their authority.
The Supreme Court’s EPA Ruling Is Going to Be Very, Very Expensive
Today’s major environmental ruling from the Supreme Court, West Virginia v. EPA, is probably most notable for what it did not do.
It did not say that the Environmental Protection Agency is prohibited from regulating heat-trapping carbon pollution from America’s existing power plants.
It also did not strip the EPA of its ability to regulate climate pollution at all.
In short, it did not, as some progressives feared, blast away any possibility of using the federal government’s environmental powers to solve climate change, the biggest environmental problem of our time.
Yet its effects will be felt for years to come. The ruling limits the EPA’s ability to regulate climate change, but leaves enough room that the agency still must try to do so. With these constraints, the Court is forcing the agency to approach the problem of carbon pollution with brute-force tools. In short, the Court has ensured that climate regulation, when it comes, will prove both more cumbersome and more expensive for almost everyone involved.
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