Supreme Court Makes Another Political Decision to Side with Polluters

Today, June 30, The Supreme Court, voting 6 to 3 along ideological lines, curbed the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to broadly regulate carbon emissions from power plants. Today’s decision on West Virginia v. EPA limits the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. The Supreme Court sided with the fossil fuel industry to strip the EPA of the power to do its job: protecting our people and the environment from the growing climate crisis.

By limiting the EPA’s authority to regulate pollution from the energy sector (the sector is responsible for over a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions), the Supreme Court is putting our environment, our climate, and our health in increasing danger.

Justice Elena Kagan delivered a critical dissent to the court’s majority opinion in the case. In the decision, the court took away the president’s authority to implement regulations under the Clean Air Act to reduce carbon emissions at power plants. The majority opinion was delivered by Chief Justice John Roberts. Kagan, joined by fellow justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor, called the court’s decision “all the more troubling” given the subject matter.

“Whatever else this Court may know about, it does not have a clue about how to address climate change,” Kagan wrote. “And let’s say the obvious: The stakes here are high. Yet the Court today prevents congressionally authorized agency action to curb power plants’ carbon dioxide emissions.”

Kagan also called out the court for designating itself as the rule-maker for such policies. “The Court appoints itself—instead of Congress or the expert agency—the decision-maker on climate policy. I cannot think of many things more frightening. Respectfully, I dissent.”

It’s clear that we cannot continue to rely on an anti-regulatory Supreme Court that is in the pockets of industry to protect our families and our climate. We must become more radical and take action to work around and avoid such terrible decisions by this out-of-control court.

Contributed by:
Dan Horvath
Blogger and Executive Committee Member, Sierra Club Portage Trail Group
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