Most Voters Say Supreme Court Shouldn’t Bar EPA From Regulating Air Pollution

A majority of voters reject conservative efforts to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), from being able regulate air pollution that is contributing towards the climate crisis in the Supreme Court case West Virginia v. EPA, new polling finds.

In a recent surveyEvergreen Action and Data for Progress both found that 62 per cent of likely voters voted for the EPA to regulate air quality after hearing both pro and con arguments. This includes 82 percent of Democrats.

Meanwhile, the vast majority of those surveyed (84 percent) said that they are either very, somewhat or a little concerned that the Supreme Court could soon remove the federal government’s ability to regulate air pollution under the Clean Air Act. This includes 68 % of Republicans, 87% of independents, as well as an overwhelming 97 % of Democrats.

The Supreme Court is expected this week to issue a ruling on the matter. West Virginia case, which could — depending on how the court’s supermajority of far right justices rules — severely limit the government’s ability to address the climate crisis and reach goals of cutting carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2030.

Justices heard arguments Monday for the case. The case concerns the authority that the EPA has to regulate power plants in accordance with a Barack Obama-era climate rule known as the Clean Power Plan. The plan was never put in place — it was repealed by the Trump administration before it could go into effect and hasn’t been reinstated by Joe Biden — meaning that the High Court is ruling on a challenge to regulation that effectively doesn’t exist.

The Supreme Court is “looking to set a precedent for the future, essentially going outside of its jurisdiction to prevent future EPA rulemaking on power plant pollution,” Data for Progress wrote in its post about the polling. “This is a dangerous case that could gut some of the most impactful provisions of the Clean Air Act and permanently hamper the EPA’s ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector.”

Plaintiffs argue that Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s right-wing extremist doctrine, also known as The Defending Principle, should be applied by the Supreme Court. major questions doctrine, which limits agencies’ ability to regulate in areas of economic and political importance — essentially limiting the scope of the government overall.

If the Supreme Court rules with West Virginia and fellow plaintiffs — who have many of the same political donors as those who were behind efforts to get five of the Republican justices confirmed — it could have far-reaching consequences beyond just the scope of regulating power plants.

The ruling would meanThe EPA would, for example, have to obtain approval from Congress each time it wants to regulate a water or air pollutant. It would also make it so that states wishing to allow a power producer to shift toward renewable energies would find their hands tied, as the EPA wouldn’t be allowed to force utilitiesto replace fossil fuel energy sources to meet pollution standards.

The relatively novel case implements restrictions that Republicans have been working toward for years — if not decades — to enhance their fossil fuel donors’ profits while accelerating the climate crisis.

Climate advocates have raised the alarm about the case, which they say could not only hamper the country’s ability to curb its contribution to the climate crisis but also have severe consequences for public health.

Advocates have also linked the motivation behind the case with fossil fuel interests. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island, made a speech last week on the Senate’s floor. said that fossil fuel interests have been bankrolling efforts leading to this case, with the promise that they’d have a major “payday” when they finally succeed. Theories like the major questions doctrine were created in fossil fuel industry think tanks, which he called “factories where doctrines are crafted, reverse-engineered from the results the big donors want.”