The Supreme Court has been quite busy over the past few weeks. Many assumed that Roe v Wade would be the most earth-shattering decision coming out of the High Court. Many forgot that there was one more decision still pending – West Virginia vs. The Environmental Protection Agency.
This was a particularly important case because West Virginia questioned whether the EPA should be able to make important policies that impact the lives of every America. The EPA, after all, is not elected. So, should they be allowed to make policies?
Much of the case centered around the Clean Power Plan, which was adopted by Former President Barack Obama. The program was expensive — $33 billion per year – and would have been a significant change to our power grid.
Two coal companies joined with the state of West Virginia to sue the EPA, identifying that the plan abused power – and power that they had not earned.
The decision came in this past Thursday – and it most certainly is a game-changer.
A 6 to 3 ruling said that the EPA doesn’t have the authority to shift the energy production of the U.S. from coal to cleaner sources.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, “Capping carbon dioxide emissions at a level that will force a nationwide transition away from the use of coal to generate electricity may be a sensible ‘solution to the crisis of the day.’ But it is not plausible that Congress gave EPA the authority to adopt on its own such a regulatory scheme. A decision of such magnitude and consequence rests with Congress itself, or an agency acting pursuant to a clear delegation from that representative body.”
And before anyone blames Donald Trump, Chief Justice John Roberts was appointed by George W. Bush in 2005.
It’s also important to remind everyone that every Chief Justice is confirmed by Congress. They are chosen for their impartial abilities to define and adhere to the law. Justices are not identified as Republican or Democrat. They are only assumed to be Republican or Democrat based on the president who nominates them.
The ruling has made quite a few things clear. First, the EPA has been given too much power – so things are about to change. Second, future measures to address carbon dioxide pollution must be focused on specific plants as opposed to simply making a generalized statement of shifting utilities from coal to renewable energy sources.
Justice Elena Kagan has been extremely vocal. In her dissent, she wrote that the ruling “strips the Environmental Protection Agency of the power Congress gave it to respond to ‘the most pressing environmental challenge of our time.”
Kagan went on to say that “If the current rate of emissions continues, children born this year could live to see parts of the Eastern seaboard swallowed by the ocean.”
Of course, this is her opinion.
There’s no guarantee that would happen. There’s also no guarantee that changing the rate of emissions would protect against the heat, the rising waters, or other severe weather conditions that have been seen.
The environment is ever-evolving. Severe weather conditions have been plaguing the earth long before we had gas cars on the roads and coal factories piping CO2 pollution into the air.
Dissent came from not only Kagan but also Breyer and Sotomayor for the 6-3 decision.
They maintain that the EPA has the authority that they do because Congress provided them with that authority and specific parameters that they have stayed within.
The ruling is that the EPA shouldn’t have ever been given such authority since they are not elected officials. Instead, the EPA should have done the research and provided recommendations. From there, Congress could have voted to enact those recommendations.
What does this mean going forward? Well, to start, coal plants can continue to operate. And Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg might have to realize that gas cars are here to stay – at least for a while. In the meantime, as liberals lose their collective minds about the ruling, they have to understand that they have to get Congress to agree to more restrictive environmental policies.
This was the last SCOTUS ruling that we were waiting on, so they’ll convene for the summer. Now, we simply wait to see what drama comes of what they’ve recently ruled on.