move, Joe Manchin. There is a new climate villain of the month in Washington, DC.
Friday Supreme Court he said would hear a case that could limit the ability of the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. There are a lot of moving and legal pieces here. But the big picture is this: the suit could be very, very bad for the ability of the U.S. to do anything about climate change.
The time frame here is a bit complex, but in essence, the challenge that the court agreed to hear was actually raised against a rule that is not technically used. EPA has a legal obligation to regulate carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act following a significant 2007 Supreme Court decision. The Obama administration drafted the Clean Energy Plan in 2016 to do just that so that the court could send it into legal limbo (accidentally, in one of the last works of Antoninus Scalia on this Earth, which seems like a suitable evil way out). After Trump took office, his administration drafted a proposed replacement for the Clean Energy Plan, which, to no one’s surprise, it was great for the industry (of course).
In January, the court in turn rejected Trump’s proposed rule. A coalition of 18 state prosecutors from countries eligible for fossil fuels challenged the decision. The list of states and groups in this petition reads like a wet dream of a coal baron: the challenge is led by West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrissey, who complained that the ruling would give EPA “virtually unlimited powers to regulate large sections of everyday life.” energy costs and eliminate countless jobs. ” Their appeal is what the Supreme Court decided, somehow, worth hearing.
“It’s a big and big surprise,” Jeff Holmstead, a former EPA assistant administrator and now a partner at Bracewell LLP, he told Bloomberg, who added that the case “will almost certainly prevent the Biden administration from moving forward with a new rule to regulate carbon emissions from the energy sector. They will have to wait to see what the Supreme Court says. ”
Court agreed to hear 18 state petitioners as well as corporate supporters of coal-loving challenges, including the Lignite Council, the North American Coal Corporation and Westmoreland Mining. These are fundamental questions about what the EPA is allowed to do in terms of power plant regulation. This, in essence, could hamstring Biden’s ability to do anything about climate change through the executive branch, while Congress is also thumbs up thanks to Republicans and Senator Joe Manchin opposition to the necessary climate policies.
Some lawyers have pointed out that the time for this is particularly ominous. The EPA currently has no special rules governing how it regulates power plants. After the Trump plan was rejected, the Biden administration said that it was writing new rules, but nothing has been introduced yet so that this appeal could be challenged. The fact that the Supreme Court agrees to hear this appeal when there are not even EPA rules could only be a demonstration of force for them to bypass the power of the EPA even more aggressively. The announcement comes as President Biden prepares to go to UN Conference on Climate Change in Glasgow, where he will already have to defend on the world stage the infamous performance of the Climate Congress. Now, it seems, he will have to answer questions about the decision of the Supreme Court.
The court is currently full of conservative judges who have expressed their views supporting corporate interests (while fucking about human rights) very clear. The latest justice, Amy Coney Barrett, seemed to flirt with a slight climate denial when asked about science, speaking during her 2020 confirmation hearing that she “has no firm views on climate change” (whatever the hell that means). Her father was also a a lawyer for Shell and the American Petroleum Institute, the latter of which was against Obama’s clean energy plan. The EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions will have to move through a conservative court glove.
Although the decision guarantees that some kind of verdict will be passed on the case, there is still a small chance that there could be outcomes that would not be completely terrible. The Supreme Court could dismiss the case for procedural reasons. But it’s important to note that this is a great time for people who want to rely on the environment to have SCOTUS hear the big case given the overtly conservative, corporate leanings of its majority.
Happy Friday, I guess.
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