And so a ruinous session of the U.S. Supreme Court concludes with the expected 6-3 ruling preventing the Biden administration’s EPA from imposing rules to limit air pollution.
The US Supreme Court has sided with Republican-led states to in effect hobble the federal government’s ability to tackle the climate crisis, in a ruling that will have profound implications for the government’s overall regulatory power.
In a move that will seriously hinder America’s ability to stave off disastrous global heating, the supreme court, which became dominated by rightwing justices under the Trump administration, has opted to support a case brought by West Virginia that demands the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) be limited in how it regulates planet-heating gases from the energy sector.
The case, which was backed by a host of other Republican-led states including Texas and Kentucky [and Arkansas], was highly unusual in that it was based upon the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era strategy to cut emissions from coal-fired power plants that never came into effect. The Biden administration sought to have the case dismissed as baseless given the plan was dropped and has not been resurrected.
Not only was this case about a regulation that does not exist, that never took effect, and which would have imposed obligations on the energy sector that it would have met regardless. It also involves two legal doctrines that are not mentioned in the constitution, and that most scholars agree have no basis in any federal statute.
However, the supreme court has 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 pollution – even though emissions from coal are helping cause worsening flooding, heatwaves and droughts around the world, as well as killing millions of people through toxic air.
It is the most important climate change case to come before the supreme court in more than a decade.
But the ruling could also have sweeping consequences for the federal government’s ability to set standards and regulate in other areas, such as clean air and water, consumer protections, banking, workplace safety and public health. It may prove a landmark moment in conservative ambitions to dismantle the “regulatory state”, stripping away protections from Americans across a wide range of areas.
UPDATE: Perhaps coincidentally, the state’s biggest electric supplier issued a news release today that began:
Entergy Arkansas officials announced Thursday it has issued a request for proposals for 1,000 megawatts of solar and wind generation resources, emissions-free renewables that can provide cost-effective energy supply, capacity, fuel diversity, and other benefits to its customers.
“Entergy Arkansas has a commitment to providing our customers with low-cost, reliable energy as well as more renewable generation,” said Kurt Castleberry, director of resource planning and marketing operations. “We continue to grow green energy within our diverse portfolio of power resources to better serve our existing and growing customer base and look forward to some exciting proposals.”
And for a great takedown explanation of the egregious ruling, read this thread:
Today's decision sharply restricting EPA's ability to regulate greenhouse gases from power plants is fascinating.
First, two small but epic tidbits:
1. US power plants & energy companies achieved the GHG reductions EPA wanted *without the plan ever being put into law*!
— (((Charles Fishman))) (@cfishman) June 30, 2022