U.S. Supreme Court Limits Government Powers to Reduce Greenhouse Gases – Manila Bulletin

WASHINGTON, United States — The United States Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the government’s top environmental agency cannot impose broad limits on greenhouse gases, dramatically curtailing the power of President Joe Biden’s administration. to combat climate change.

Climate activists, including members of Extinction Rebellion, participate in a protest against a recent Supreme Court ruling on June 30, 2022 in New York City. In a ruling that angered the environmental community, the Supreme Court limited the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to broadly regulate carbon emissions from existing power plants. The decision will further limit the power of the Biden administration to curb carbon pollution that contributes to global warming. Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP SPENCER PLATT/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/Getty Images via AFP

By a 6-3 majority, the High Court found the Environmental Protection Agency lacked the power to set hard caps on emissions from coal-fired power stations, which produce almost 20% of electricity consumed in the United States.

The decision sets back Biden’s hopes of using the EPA to cut emissions to meet global climate goals, set in 2015 under the Paris Agreement on climate change.

It was a significant victory for the coal mining and coal-fired power industry, which was targeted the same year for strict limits by then-President Barack Obama’s administration in the goal of reducing carbon pollution.

It also marked a victory for conservatives fighting government regulation of the industry, with the court’s majority including three right-wing justices appointed by former President Donald Trump, who had sought to weaken the EPA.

Biden called it “another devastating move that aims to set our country back.”

“We cannot and will not ignore the danger to public health and the existential threat posed by the climate crisis.”

Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, said it was “a setback in our fight against climate change”.

– Capital letters ‘perhaps a good idea but…’ –

In the case between West Virginia and other coal-mining states against the government, the court said that while the EPA had the power to regulate individual power plants, Congress had not given it such sweeping powers to set limits covering all power-generating units.

The majority justices said they recognized that capping carbon dioxide emissions to move away from coal power “could be a sensible solution” to global warming.

But they said the case involved a “major issue” of US governance with broad consequences, and that the EPA should be specifically delegated those powers by the legislature.

The three-member liberal minority on the court lambasted the majority for overriding the powers they said the EPA was in fact facing “the most pressing environmental challenge of our time.”

“The stakes here are high,” Judge Elena Kagan wrote. “Whatever else this court may know, it has no idea how to tackle climate change.

– Over-regulation –

Conservatives cheered the decision as a strike against excessive regulation.

“The Court struck down illegal regulations issued by the EPA without any clear authorization from Congress and confirmed that only the people’s representatives in Congress – not unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats – can write the laws of our country,” wrote Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, who represents Kentucky, a state with a major coal mining industry.

Michelle Bloodworth, president of America’s Power, a coal industry lobby, applauded the decision.

“We are delighted that the court agreed with us that the EPA does not have unlimited power to do whatever it wants,” she said in a statement.

“Coal-fired power plants provide affordable and reliable electricity,” she added.

But House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi called the move “radical” by the “pro-pollution judges.”

“In curtailing the authority of the EPA, the Republican supermajority on the court has bowed to dirty energy special interests who seek to poison the air our children breathe and the water they drink by all impunity,” she said in a statement.

Environmental groups have called on the Democratic-controlled Congress to take more action on climate change, with more investment in areas such as clean energy and public transit.

“It means Congress has an even stronger imperative to act boldly and quickly,” the Sierra Club said.

– Court Tories show muscle –

Thursday’s decision capped a term for the court in which the new conservative majority has flexed its muscles in ways that will have profound effects on American society.

Two similar 6-3 decisions last week shook the country. One extended the rights of gun owners to carry their guns wherever they go, with few limitations.

The second ended a half-century-old constitutional right to abortion, setting off a chain reaction in which more than half of the 50 states are poised to ban or severely restrict the practice.

The EPA’s decision could also have far-reaching implications.

Conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote separately that the decision was a statement that no government agency can craft policies with far-reaching effect without express authorization from Congress.

“When an agency claims the power to regulate vast swaths of American life, it risks not only encroaching on the power of Congress, but also encroaching on the powers reserved for the states,” Gorsuch wrote.

But critics said it ignored the deep divisions in Congress that have stifled important policy debates.

“Insisting instead that an agency can only enact a large and meaningful climate rule by showing ‘clear congressional authorization’ at a time when the court knows that Congress is indeed dysfunctional, the court is threatening to upset the ability of the national government to protect public health and welfare,” said Richard Lazarus, a professor at Harvard Law School.



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