The US Supreme Court is limiting the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its ability to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
The US is one of the world’s biggest polluters. According to Carbon Brief, it is responsible for more than 20 percent of global CO2 emissions since 1850, which is the largest share of historical emissions.
But, due to the new ruling, President Joe Biden and the EPA are going to have a difficult time reducing US emissions.
Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled on a case brought by West Virginia against the EPA. The former argued that the latter does not have the authority to limit emissions across whole states. The Supreme Court sided with West Virginia, limiting the EPA’s abilities to regulate power plant emissions.
The case was also supported by 18 other states, most of them Republican-led. They expressed concerns that they would suffer financially if forced to move away from coal. Some of the US’ biggest coal companies also supported the case.
The coal industry is a significant contributor to the climate crisis. In 2020, global coal combustion produced more than 13 billion metric tonnes of carbon dioxide.
‘Condemning everyone alive today’
Environmental lawyers, activists, and scientists have labeled the Supreme Court’s ruling “devasting.”
It comes just one week after the court overturned Roe v. Wade, a decision that protected the right to choose to have an abortion.
“At this point, for those in positions of high power to deny the urgency and the stakes of the climate crisis is to condemn everyone alive today and generations to come to life in a sick and impoverished world,” Ginger Cassady, executive director for environmental organization Rainforest Action Network, told the Guardian.
Biden himself has also expressed disappointment with the Supreme Court’s decision.
He said: “While this decision risks damaging our nation’s ability to keep our air clean and combat climate change, I will not relent in using my lawful authorities to protect public health and tackle the climate crisis.”
Greenpeace maintains that Biden can do more to help the environment by declaring a climate emergency.
“Declaring a Climate Emergency would be the beginning of the end to the era of fossil fuels and climate destruction,” the environmental organization states. “By using his executive powers, President Biden can repair the harm caused by environmental racism and deliver good-paying union jobs, justice, and clean energy for all.”
Greenpeace has set up a petition, asking Biden to declare a climate emergency as soon as possible. Add your name here.