Supreme Court Limits Washington's Efforts to Tackle GHG Emissions

Supreme Court limits Washington’s efforts to tackle GHG emissions

The report by Valérie-Micaela Bain

The very conservative Supreme Court of the United States limited Thursday the federal means to combat global warming in a shutdown that could more broadly complicate all US state regulatory efforts.

The nation's highest court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could not enact sweeping rules to regulate emissions from coal-fired power plants, which produce nearly 20% of the world's carbon dioxide. #x27;electricity in the United States.

A White House spokesperson has denounced a devastating new court ruling that aims to set our country back. US President Joe Biden will not hesitate to use his powers under the law to protect public health and tackle the climate change crisis, according to a short statement released to the press.

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The judgment was adopted by the six conservative magistrates of the Court.

Put a limit on carbon dioxide emissions at a level that would require giving up, at the national level, coal to produce electricity could be a relevant solution to today's crisis. But it is not credible that Congress gave the EPA the authority to pass such a measure, Judge John Roberts writes on their behalf.

But their three progressive colleagues distanced themselves from a decision deemed frightening. The Court has stripped the Environmental Protection Agency of the power Congress gave it to address “the most pressing problem of our time”, writes Judge Elena Kagan, recalling that the six warmest years have been recorded in the past decade.

Reflecting the divisions of American society on environmental issues, the decision was immediately welcomed by the Republican Party, hostile to any federal regulation and defender of fossil fuels.

Today' today the Supreme Court is giving power back to the people, its Senate leader Mitch McConnell said, blaming Democratic President Joe Biden for waging a war on affordable energy despite inflation.

< p class="e-p">But Democrats, like young elected official Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, called the decision catastrophic.

Our planet is on fire and this extremist Supreme Court is destroying the federal government's ability to fight back, Senator Elizabeth Warren added.

Appalled, environmental defense organizations highlighted the gap with the rest of the world. The decision threatens the United States to be relegated far behind our international partners who are accelerating efforts to meet their climate commitments, pointed out Nathaniel Keohane, president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.

After the about-face on abortion last week, this ruling represents yet another change of foot at the Supreme Court.

In 2007, it had decided by a narrow majority that the EPA was competent to regulate the emissions of gases responsible for global warming, in the same way that it is charged by a law of the 1960s with limiting the pollution of the air.

But since then, former Republican President Donald Trump, a climatosceptic hostile to any restrictive measure for the industry, has brought in three magistrates within the temple of American law, cementing its conservative majority.

Beyond the EPA, their decision could limit the efforts of all federal regulatory agencies, including that on occupational health and safety (OSHA).

The majority said agencies can't take meaningful action to meet their goals, no matter how high the stakes, the law professor told AFP environmental Robert Percival of the University of Maryland.

She insists that these agencies get “clear authorization from Congress”, but she knows Congress is extremely dysfunctional , adds Richard Lazarus, professor at Harvard.

Given the fractures between elected officials, hoping for the adoption of a climate law seems indeed a wishful thinking.

In concrete terms , the file at the heart of the decision finds its source in an ambitious plan adopted in 2015 by Barack Obama to reduce CO emissions. This Clean Power Plan, whose implementation fell to the EPA, had been blocked before entering into force.

In 2019, Donald Trump issued his own rule for affordable clean energy, limiting the EPA's scope of action within each electricity production site, without allowing it to redesign the entire network.

A federal court having struck down this draft, several conservative states and the coal industry asked the Supreme Court to intervene and clarify the powers of the EPA.

The government of Democrat Joe Biden had made it known that it did not intend to resurrect Barack Obama's plan and had asked the Supreme Court to declare the case obsolete to avoid a decision with harmful consequences. His bet failed.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres ruled on Thursday through a spokesperson that the arrest of the Supreme Court was a setback in the fight against the environmental crisis.

We can say that this is a setback in our fight against climate change, while we are already very behind in achieving the objectives of the Paris agreement adopted in 2015, notes the spokesperson in a press release.

But we must also remember that an emergency of such a global nature as climate change requires a global response, and the actions of a single nation should not and cannot make or break the achievement or not. of our climate goals.

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