SCOTUS Limits EPA Powers to Repress Carbon Emissions

EPA Rundown

Associations like the EPA have managed to hold our major polluters accountable, ensuring America stays within its limits to reach UN SDGs and comply with COP21. On a specific note, the EPA has kept our air clean through enforcing the Clean Air Act preventing 230,000 early deaths and boosting our economy with the high benefits estimate exceeds costs by 90 times. Along with this, the Clean Water Act has been another benefit of the EPA, especially in situations like the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. 

This organization donates more than 40% of their funds to states to assist with their environmental efforts- and goes even deeper to hold companies accountable and monitor their emissions. (Top 10 Reasons We Need the EPA)

What Now?

The United States, home to only 4% of the global population, burns fossil fuels at a rate higher than the rest of the world. Second to China, America emitted 669.5 million metric tons of Co2 equivalents in 2020– meaning America is an important player in the battle of curbing carbon emissions. 

Recognizing this, Biden’s administration wants the U.S. power sector decarbonized by 2035.This is in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development goals and COP21 Paris agreements, stating that all countries would work to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius. 

However, the US Supreme Court placed restrictions on the federal government’s authority to reduce carbon emissions from power plants- going against President Biden’s plans. The West Virginia V. The Environmental Protection Agency is part of a conservative activist plan- many who have direct relationships with coal and oil manufacturers, to limit executive powers on combating global warming.  The Supreme Court was asked to decide whether the 1970 Clean Air Act permits the E.P.A. to impose broad controls on the electricity industry or restricts it to imposing adjustments at specific power plants. Republican attorneys and coal companies argue that EPA regulations impact the economy and these rules should be set up by Congress, rathe than federal agencies (i.e. the EPA). 

The court’s 6-3 decision limited the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) control of GHG emissions from current coal- and-gas-fired power plants. According to the New York Times, “this ruling curtails the E.P.A.’s ability to regulate the energy sector, limiting it to measures like emission controls at individual power plants and ruling out more ambitious approaches like a cap-and-trade system without the intervention of Congress.” This means the government does not have the power to force fossil-fuel based plants to more sustainable power sources.

Disclaimer: All these views are my own and do not reflect those of any affiliation.

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