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Jul-06-2022 12:26printcomments

SCOTUS Limits EPA's Power to Combat Climate Change

The window for limiting global warming to relatively safe levels is rapidly closing.

climate change
Youth of today are fearful of their climate future.
Photo by Markus Spiske, pexels

(SAN FRANCISCO, CA.) - The conservative majority of the U.S. Supreme Court ended its controversial term with the ruling in West Virginia v. EPA which limits EPA’s power to combat climate change, a "gutting of the Clean Air Act."

The EPA sought to issue regulations designed to get coal-fired power plants to shift to less polluting technologies, major source of greenhouse gases. The regulations were never issued.

The Court ruled that in cases involving particularly consequential policy decisions, the agency must be able to point to clear congressional language allowing it to act.

Congress, of course, lacks the expertise, time, and ability to legislate in every area of need facing the nation. And so it delegates some of its lawmaking power to federal agencies that do have the expertise and ability to craft regulations addressing certain problems and needs.

Instead of deferring to regulatory agencies, the Court cited the "major questions doctrine” which says that Congress must “speak clearly if it wishes to assign to an agency decisions of vast economic and political significance.”

Associate Justice Elena Kagan in her dissent disagreed, "The limits the majority now puts on EPA’s authority fly in the face of the statute Congress wrote.” Justice Kagan argued that the Clean Air Act does "broadly authorized EPA in Section 111 to select the 'best system of emission reduction' for power plants."

Getting a divided Congress to act means little or nothing will get done, especially on climate change.

According to the April 2022 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (ipcc), the window for limiting global warming to relatively safe levels is rapidly closing.

Climate change is a threat to human well-being and planetary health. Any further delay in international action will result in an unlivable and unsustainable future for us all.

In order to meet the goals of The Paris Agreement to limit the average global temperature rise to 1.5°C (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels— and failing that, to below 2°C —will take immediate and unprecedented action from every country.

The next climate summit will take place in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt on 7-18 November 2022. Unfortunately the United States, the second largest carbon polluter after China, will probably be unable to show by example much progress.

The $1.75 trillion Budget Reconciliation bill, which includes the Build Back Better Act with all its climate provisions intact failed to pass. This would have been a $555 billion framework to combat the climate crisis.

We have the knowledge, money, technology and affordable clean energy that we need to cut our carbon emissions in half by 2030. That’s the good news from the IPCC. What needs to be done is dramatically reduce the use of fossil fuels such as coal and oil, and cut methane emissions by one-third.

SCOTUS decisions like West Virginia v. EPA are a set back for efforts to control climate change. As a result, we can expect disasters to get stronger and more frequent. Time is running out.

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Ralph E. Stone July 12, 2022 8:21 am (Pacific time)

Au contraire, there is indeed a scientific consensus on global warming. In the scientific field of climate studies, which includes many disciplines, a consensus can be demonstrated by the number of scientists who have stopped arguing about what is causing climate change. So a consensus in science is different from a political one. There is no vote. Scientists just give up arguing because the sheer weight of consistent evidence is too compelling, the tide too strong to swim against any longer. The debate now should be on what to do about global warming.


sts July 8, 2022 5:59 pm (Pacific time)

how quickly can w get gas autos off the road and only electric cars on the road?, close down factories, (lay-offs), and so on..whats that old saying my dad use to say? "clothes the door "after" the cow gets out. Even if this climate change is true, ( I dont know but there are many intelligent beings that say climate change is a scam to control the populations). Im not saying there is no climate change, I am just saying their are arguments from both sides...as usual, Ralph does a great article, mentioning climate change, Im always impressed with his writing, but its still just one side of the story.

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