SCOTUS EPA Ruling Signals Court Will Strike Down Rules Limiting Corporate Profit

The Supreme Court decided on the final day of its term that a case was no less important than the shameful decision it had made a week prior. Roe v. Wade In West Virginia v. EPA, the court’s right-wing members confirmed they are in the pockets of the fossil fuel companies. The 6-3 majority sided with coal companies and Republican-led states to restrain the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) power to regulate carbon emissions.

“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,’” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote on behalf of himself, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. But “it is not plausible that Congress gave EPA the authority to adopt on its own such a regulatory scheme.”

This frightening decision could preempt new regulations the Biden administration’s EPA is developing to fight climate change. It will be almost impossible for President Joe Biden meet his goals. climate goalBy 2030, half of all new American cars will be electric. All electricity generated by solar, wind, and other zero-carbon sources by 2035.

“Today, the Court strips the [EPA] of the power Congress gave it to respond to ‘the most pressing environmental challenge of our time,’” Elena Kagan wrote in the dissent joined by Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor.

In 2015, President Barack Obama’s EPA adopted the Clean Power Plan (CPP) to enforce the Clean Air Act. The CPP aimed to combat climate change by reducing carbon emissions from power plants through the “best system of emissions reduction” — by shifting the production of electricity to solar, wind power or fracked gas plants. It wanted to shift from 38 percent coal to 27 per cent coal by 2030. After several states challenged the plan, the Supreme Court halted the implementation of CPP in 2016.

The CPP was repealed by the Trump administration in 2019. It was replaced with the Affordable Clean Energie Rule (ACE Rule), a less powerful program. It allowed states to establish regulations and gave power plants flexibility when complying with them.

The Court of Appeals for D.C. halted President Donald Trump’s repeal of the CPP and the ACE Rule last year. Circuit halted both President Donald Trump’s repeal of the CPP and the ACE Rule and sent the case back to the EPA. The appellate court took issue with the Trump administration’s narrow interpretation of the EPA’s authority.

On June 30, the Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals’s ruling. For the first time, the majority used the “major questions doctrine,” which requires that Congress clearly spell out the powers of an administrative agency to make “decisions of vast economic and political significance.”

Kagan wrote in dissent that Congress “broadly authorized EPA” to choose the “’best system of emission reduction’ for power plants…. The ‘best system,’ full stop — no ifs, ands, or buts of any kind relevant here.” She noted that the parties didn’t dispute that the EPA’s method “is indeed the ‘best system’ — the most effective and efficient way to reduce power plants’ carbon dioxide emissions.”

“Whatever else this Court may know about, it does not have a clue about how to address climate change,” Kagan wrote. “And let’s say the obvious: The stakes here are high. Yet the Court today prevents congressionally authorized agency action to curb power plants’ carbon dioxide emissions.” She cautions, “The Court appoints itself — instead of Congress or the expert agency — the decisionmaker on climate policy. I cannot think of many things more frightening.”

Kagan cites the likelihood 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.” She adds, “Rising waters, scorching heat, and other severe weather conditions could force ‘mass migration events[,] political crises, civil unrest,’ and ‘even state failure.’”

EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan responded to the court’s ruling: “At this moment, when the impacts of the climate crisis are becoming ever more disruptive, costing billions of dollars every year from floods, wildfires, droughts and sea level rise, and jeopardizing the safety of millions of Americans, the Court’s ruling is disheartening.”

Fewer than half the states have passed substantial climate change policies. California leads the nation in requiring all new cars sold by 2035 to be electric or low-emission. Seventeen other states are expected to follow California’s lead. California must have 100 percent electricity generated from zero carbon sources by 2045. Clean electricity is required in 21 other states, and others are considering imposing even stricter standards.

In her dissent, Kagan pointed out that the majority opinion and particularly Gorsuch’s concurrence are suffused with an “anti-administrative-state” analysis. Alliance for Justice, a non-profit group, was present when Gorsuch was nominated for the Supreme Court. warned of the danger of Gorsuch’s practice of second-guessing agency experts: “It is difficult to overstate the damage [Gorsuch’s]position would cause. Judge Gorsuch would tie the hands of precisely those entities that Congress has recognized have the depth and experience to enforce critical laws, safeguard essential protections, and ensure the safety of the American people.”

The court’s decision sends an ominous signal that it will use the major questions doctrine to strike down other regulations that limit corporate profits. It could limit federal agencies’ ability regulate workplace safety, health, product safety and water protections, vehicle safety, telecommunications, the financial sector, and other areas.

By eliminating the constitutional right to abortion, and curtailing the authority of the EPA to halt climate disruption, the conservative members of the court have proven they are loyal foot soldiers in the right wing’s 50-year crusadeTo create a capitalist democracy.

We can expect future rulings to affirm the position of the right-wing majority at the high court. fewer regulations on industryRegulation of personal privacy rights is essential.