The Bigger Meaning Behind the Supreme Court's Crackdown on the EPA

Kate Fraser - Teen Aspect - July 14th, 2022
(Stefani Reynolds/ New York Times, 2022)
 

“We are pleased this case returned the power to decide one of the major environmental issues of the day to the right place to decide it: the US Congress,” said Patrick Morrisey, West Virginia’s attorney general.

On June 30th, 2022, the Supreme Court made yet another decision that will undermine the wellbeing of millions, limiting the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate carbon emissions from power plans.

This was a big win for conservative representatives, many of whom consistently defend nonrenewable energy sources due to concerns over excessive costs. Morrisey’s statement sums this up, sharing the sentiment of West Virginians who have built a historic culture around coal plants. Yet, in assessing his ideology, Morrisey, and many conservative representatives, makes it seem like Congress is ready or even anticipatory for important environmental decisions surrounding fossil fuels. Nonetheless, almost every single one of President Joe Biden’s ambitious yet crucial climate policies has been stamped with an overwhelming number of “nays” by Republicans in Congress. So, Republican voters in Congress never really have the interest of Americans in mind when it comes to the dire position we are in at this point in the climate crisis.

Rather than actually enjoying this decision for reasons of enthusiasm, the GOP is enjoying this decision as they always have in historical terms; it’s just another way to limit the EPA’s power in Washington. From the Reagan era leading to budget and staff cuts to President Trump overturning countless proposals, the main administration that can get America close to its recent environmental policy goals has been under countless assaults by conservative leaders over the years.

And this matches with a 2019 Pew Research Center survey, suggesting that the majority of

Republican voters believe that laws surrounding environmental issues “cost too many jobs” and “hurt the economy.” [i] Yet, these assertions are often consistently exaggerated, with environmental legislation having little to no net effects on jobs, [ii] while also saving the country money that would be later spent on climate relief.

Finally, much of the conservative opposition to progressive climate legislation is founded on climate denial and misinformation. A rather recent example of this occurred when the Republican Representative of Georgia, Marjorie Taylor Greene, said that “this earth warming and carbon is actually healthy for us.” Former President Donald Trump also had many instances of questioning climate scientists during his term.

This widespread misbelief of climate officials is inherently dangerous and reckless, and it has been the leading reason as to why America is so far behind in the global diplomatic effort to cohesively curb the foreboding extreme weather and climate events that loom in everyone’s future. Regarding the Supreme Court decision, the EPA is no longer able to move utility companies to renewable energy. Because the administration still holds the ability to regulate emissions, the decision is not as crushing as some make it out to be. However, this may just be the start of a series of attacks on the EPA. Many politicians paint the administration to be a challenge to democracy as the employees are not appointed via voting.

I personally believe voting is not necessary when it comes to federal agencies and administrations. Many of the decision-makers are well-rounded, educated individuals who only have the future of Americans in mind.

With conservatives on a growing power trip in Washington, the future of American environmental policy looks grim, alongside the worsening climate crisis. This could even lead to diplomatic tension, with many of America’s allies leading the movement towards a sustainable future. United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres calls this a “setback in our fight against climate change,” which will have to be countered with increasing efforts by other countries.

While this decision is not crushing, it sets a dangerous precedent for climate change denial in all American branches of government.


(i) Funk, C., & Hefferon, M. (2021, July 12). U.S. public views on climate and Energy. Pew

Research Center Science & Society. Retrieved July 14, 2022, from

https://www.pewresearch.org/science/2019/11/25/u-s-public-views-on-climate-and-energy/


(ii) Roberts, D. (2017, March 2). Do environmental regulations reduce employment? not really.

Vox. Retrieved July 14, 2022, from https://www.vox.com/science-and-

health/2017/3/2/14772518/environmental-regulations-jobs


(iii) Kaonga, G. (2022, June 14). Marjorie Taylor Greene suggests Global Warming 'is actually

healthy for us'. Newsweek. Retrieved July 14, 2022, from

https://www.newsweek.com/marjorie-taylor-greene-climate-change-global-warming-

safety-health-1715688

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