Amid a growing environmental crisis, the US Supreme Court is hampering the government’s power to limit harmful emissions
The US Supreme Court rules against the EPA and limits the government’s ability to restrict hazardous pollutants. The Supreme Court rules in favor of Republican states, marking a turning point in the right-wing’s campaign to destroy the “regulatory state”.
(Photo: Photo by Mr. Kjetil Ree)
Supreme Court decision
The United States Supreme Court sided with the Republican-led states, which crippling the federal government’s ability to tackle the climate problem in a decision that will have far-reaching ramifications for the government’s total regulatory power.
The Supreme Court, which has become dominated by right-wing justices under the Trump administration, chose to back a case brought by West Virginia that demands the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) be limited in how it regulates global warming gases from the energy sector. in a 6-3 decision that will seriously hamper America’s ability to stave off disastrous global warming.
The lawsuit, backed by several other Republican-led states like Texas and Kentucky, was unique “because it was based on the Clean Energy Plan, an Obama-era program to reduce emissions from coal-fired power plants that never materialized. The Biden administration tried to dismiss the complaint as frivolous since the scheme had been scrapped and not reintroduced.
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A major decision
(Photo: Chris LeBoutillier)
This was not simply a case involving a rule that did not exist, never came into effect, and would have imposed responsibilities on the energy industry that it would have met anyway. It also concerns two legal theories not addressed in the constitution and, according to most experts, not supported by any federal legislation.
However, the Supreme Court sided with West Virginia, a major coal-mining state, which argued that “unelected bureaucrats” at the EPA should not be allowed to reshape its economy by limiting the pollution – although coal emissions contribute to worsening floods, heat waves and droughts. around the world, as well as killing millions of people through toxic air.
“Capping carbon dioxide emissions at a level that will force a country to move away from using coal for power generation may be a sensible solution at this time,” he added. . Chief Justice John Roberts said in the ruling. “However, it seems unlikely that Congress gave the EPA the authority to implement such a regulatory structure on its own in Section 111.” (D). A decision of this magnitude and importance must be made by Congress or an agency operating under clear delegation from that legislative body.”
Conservative justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett joined Roberts. Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer, three liberal justices, dissented. This is the most significant climate change case heard by the Supreme Court in more than a decade.
However, the verdict could have far-reaching implications for the federal government’s power to make rules and regulate in other areas, including air and water quality, consumer rights, banking, occupational safety and public health. This could be a watershed moment in conservative efforts to tear down the “regulatory state,” stripping Americans’ safeguards in various areas.
It can radically change what the federal government is and what it does. Moreover, as Judge Elena Kagan pointed out in her dissent, she can delegate technical choices to a political authority that does not know them.
“First, members of Congress often don’t know enough – and are aware that they don’t know enough – to properly address an issue. Members, of course, can and do give broad guidelines. But, as we all do in our daily lives, they rely on those with more skills and experience. “These people can be found in agencies,” she added.
Several conservatives on the court have questioned what they see as the unlimited power of government agencies, as evidenced by rulings reversing two Biden measures designed to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Cancellation of memorandum
Last July, the Conservative majority overturned a pandemic-related moratorium on evictions for unpaid rent. The same six justices rejected a mandate that workers at big companies must be vaccinated or tested for the coronavirus regularly and wear a mask at work in January.
In the EPA lawsuit, the Biden administration has been backed by New York, more than a dozen Democratic-led states and major corporations such as Apple, Amazon and Google who have called for a shift fast to renewable energy.
The administration has pledged to cut U.S. emissions by the end of this decade. Yet his legislative efforts failed, with a major climate package killed by Republican senators and Joe Manchin, the moderate Democratic senator from West Virginia.
The federal government could also enforce emission reductions through administrative rules, but the Supreme Court’s verdict compromised that ability.
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