On June 30, 2022, the Supreme Court ruled on the case West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency , 6 – 3, in favor of a lawsuit brought by fossil-fuel-producing states including coal-baron-controlled West Virginia that ensures that the P in EPA will no longer stand for protection from pollution spewed out by coal- or methane-fired power plants. This judicial decision makes federal action to phase out fossil-fueled power plants using the Clean Air Act almost impossible.
Replacing dirty plants with clean(er) plants was one of the main ways that the U.S. was supposed to meet its goal of cutting in half greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Going even beyond last week’s devastating ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade and make abortion illegal (and thus far more dangerous) for millions of Americans, the WV v. EPA decision will probably cause more damage, to living beings and the natural environment, than any other decision by this court.
As the Guardian article linked above noted: “The federal government also had the power of administrative regulations in order to force reductions in emissions but the Supreme Court ruling will now imperil this ability.” Notice the past tense: “had.”
We can’t shrug this off, telling ourselves that Oregon has better regulations.
West Virginia is on the other side of the continent, but because the effects of this ruling impact the global atmosphere, carbon dioxide or methane emitted in West Virginia will raise temperatures in Oregon.
This ruling exposes how the current court continues to ignore the science of climate change.
The EPA is a federal agency. Losing the case means we lose federal environmental protections in Oregon too.
The hypocrisy of this decision is staggering: our legal system denies children in Eugene standing to sue for climate justice so that their right to a livable planet is protected, but grants the owners of coal plants protection from EPA regulation.
This Supreme Court continues to rule against, and thus show the urgent need for, the first two demands of Extinction Rebellion: to acknowledge the reality of climate change, and to do something about it, right now. The need for rebellion – nonviolent, committed, escalating in numbers and power – has never been greater. Join us.
XRPDX was contacted by a KOIN TV news reporter for comment on this terrible ruling. Action team member Michael Fairhurst responded; please watch and share:
[Michael Fairhurst contributed to this blog post.]