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United States: Why did the Supreme Court block the EPA?
Blog...United States: Why did the Supreme Court block the EPA?

United States: Why did the Supreme Court block the EPA?

Green News
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The Supreme Court has been exceptionally decisive in the United States as of late. Why did the supreme court in the U.S. block the EPA?
Green News
hand holding mini inflatable earth with mountains behind

The Supreme Court of the United States hasn’t been pleasing too many people lately.

The supreme court has been making a plethora of life-altering choices that are paving a different future than many Americans or other residents of the United States haven’t envisioned becoming a reality.

The most recent and jarring choice by the supreme court was their decision to block the EPA from the previous, autonomous capability they had to implement new environmental regulations without the necessary consent or approval from the supreme court.

So, why did the supreme court stifle the EPA?

What is the U.S. EPA?

The EPA, otherwise known as the United States Environmental Protection Agency – strives to safeguard and preserve the overall safety and health for both humans and the environment.

👉 The EPA is dedicated to providing Americans with clean air, land, and water.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency also aims to implement a collective, nation-wide strategy to lower any environmental risks posed by scientific evidence.

They strive to protect the health of humans and both the environment by monitoring economic growth, energy reserves, transportation methods and their impact on global warming, the preservation of natural resources, and how agriculture, intense industrialization, and international trade all impact environmental policy.

The EPA doesn’t include any social sector of the United States, as the EPA is dedicated to providing all communities, individuals, businesses, and state or local governments with the information necessary to assess the impact they may have on the environment.

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How does the Supreme Court in the U.S. work?

Why is the Supreme Court in the United States so powerful? 

The supreme court is the most imperative authority for any case or controversy in the United States.

Justices of the supreme court act as the final decision makers of the law in question, whilst still aiming to pertain to the American value of promoting equal justice under the law. 

The Supreme Court of the United States serves as the gate-keeper in regards to how revisited cases are evaluated and decided. Justices of the supreme court listen to testimonies, typically for no longer than thirty minutes, live in court  – and make decisions on undetermined cases. 

The first supreme court took place in 1790, after the succession of the Judiciary Act by the congress in 1789 – and ever since, the Supreme Court of the United States has remained a pivotal part of the U.S. government in law decision making.

Think of the Supreme Court of the United States back to when you were a teenager, and you needed to present your parents with a persuasive case as to why your curfew should be extended.

The supreme court works in an extremely similar fashion, and no matter how compelling the points are – the decisions of the supreme court are ultimately up to the justices even if their point of views aren’t the most popular amongst the rest of the country.

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What was the ruling in West Virginia vs EPA by the U.S. Supreme Court?

The supreme court decided to rule in contrary to the favor of the EPA, by limiting their ability to make individual caps on emissions from various sources without the consent of the supreme court. 

Now, congress is the sole interpreter of all environmental decisions, even if the EPA holds the capability to successfully and safely implement their desired environmental choices to prevent climate change alone without approval from the supreme court. 

Think of it like when people use the phrase, “I had to jump through so many hoops” – in other words, the EPA has to go through superfluous steps to employ any concrete environmental action from here on out. 

‍👉 The choice of the Supreme Court of the United States is bound to cause problems for any new environmental regulations that the EPA attempts to establish. 

The decision of the supreme court will most likely not only negatively impact the EPA, but also other environmental agencies in the future – even if their actions are nothing but beneficial to the fight against climate change. 

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Why did the Supreme Court of the U.S. revisit this case regarding the EPA?

The supreme court revisited the West Virginia vs. EPA because the initial power of the United States Environmental Protection Agency was in question. In other words, various authorities second-guessed if the EPA should have been able to dictate as many regulations on their own as they were previously able to.

The Clean Power Plan of 2015 provoked this re-consideration. 

What was the 2015 Clean Power Plan?

The 2015 Clean Power Plan aimed to alter the high levels of greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, and made it compulsory for each state to create a plan to reduce their state-wide carbon emissions, and send it to the federal government for approval.

The Clean Power Plan of 2015 directly influenced the supreme court’s recent ruling in the West Virginia vs. EPA case. 

This previous environmental plan swayed the supreme court to vote against in favor of the EPA as it would have left the responsibility to reduce carbon emissions up to each individual state since they were not required to report to the federal government under the 2015 Clean Power Plan.

👉 Although the Clean Power Plan in 2015 was never approved, the supreme court still abrasively blocked the plan – and was left untouched by the Trump administration.

With the supreme court’s new ruling in regards to the liberty of the EPA, they have made it conspicuous that they are not in favor of Obama’s previous approach to climate regulation

windmills and power plants

What was Obama’s approach to regulating climate change? 

Barack Obama had a more free-spirited approach to environmental regulation.

Despite that Obama chose a plan designed like the antithesis of the supreme court’s ultimate decision, energy companies appreciated the free-market approach established by the Obama administration.

With the Obama administration, power companies had full autonomy to decide how, when, where, and why they could decrease their carbon emissions. The Obama administration provided each state with a recommended guideline for their carbon emission reducing-goals, but each state ultimately had the ability to establish how they would decrease their emissions on their own account. 

Think of it this way: imagine you just got your learner’s permit to learn how to drive.

In most states, there are strict rules about which hours of the day you can drive, and you often need someone at least 21-years-old with a driver’s license of their own to accompany you. Therefore, it’s increasingly difficult to practice for your upcoming driver’s test without the accompaniment and willingness of someone else to drive with you.

Of course, your driving progress could be made much quicker if you didn’t need someone to drive with you, but it’s not possible to reach your goals without this prerequisite. 

The decision of the supreme court affects the timeline in which the EPA can achieve their future goals in the same manner.

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Why did the supreme court ultimately decide against free-will for the EPA?

The states of the U.S. fought for the ideal that the EPA shouldn’t have the power to implement industry-wide regulations, and that they should only be able to monitor and adjust individual power plants. 

In short, America’s “justice and liberty for all” ideal got the best of a bigger picture the EPA could have otherwise painted: a cleaner, healthier planet for us to live on.

Also, the supreme court claimed that the EPA was trying to implement previously overturned rules that would have negatively impacted the economy. In other words, the supreme court delineated their beliefs that EPA was, “out of line” and attempting to abuse the power that was given to them.

How does the Biden administration feel about the Supreme Court’s ruling?

The Biden administration shouldn’t thrilled about the choice made by the supreme court either. Biden’s team believes that taking the Clean Power Plan into consideration regarding the EPA’s autonomy was trivial as the plan was never approved in the first place. 

When Biden was elected, he was exceptionally motivated to course-correct the previous, arguably more lackadaisical climate plan set in place by the previous administration. 

Biden was motivated to use a unified governmental approach to mitigate climate change, but now that the supreme court has spoken – Biden’s environmental plans just got a whole lot harder to set in motion.

supreme court at sunrise

What is the EPA obligated to do now?

After the ruling of the supreme court, the EPA is now required to report their climate action plans to the congress before executing them. The EPA will still have the ability to take certain precautionary measures to adjust carbon emissions, such as demanding the need for improved technologies at power plants.

However, engaging and establishing environmental regulations for larger projects, such as requesting a threshold on carbon emissions or to demand a company decrease their use of coal or other fossil fuels – won’t be as easy for the EPA to do without the approval of the supreme court first.

people discussing at desk with a gavel

Why is this Supreme Court ruling potentially bad for the environment?

Will the decision made by the Supreme Court of the United States ultimately hinder the progress the EPA was making in the fight against climate change?

Unfortunately, yes.

Since the EPA can no longer establish future environmental rules with ease, it makes the goals of the United States Environmental Agency much harder to achieve. The EPA is going to be limited in what they can or can’t do. Even if something they are trying to do will only do the globe good, the supreme court or other governmental authorities will have the right to restrict the EPA from moving forward with their desired carbon-reducing plans or actions.  

The choice made by the supreme court will continue to allow federal governments to influence individual states to reduce their own carbon emissions, but establishing imperative environmental regulations won’t be easy. As the congress of the United States grows to be infamously incapable of assisting other governmental sectors, this case also places newfound pressure on the federal government to deliver and keep climate change promises. The inability for various agencies or sectors to establish their own environmental policies immediately without the approval of the supreme court or congress will make it increasingly difficult to fight global warming, which is a worldly predicament that requires continuous, instantaneous action.

By limiting the EPA’s authority to make environmental changes without the necessary consent of the supreme court, any potentially beneficial environmental regulation will inevitably take much, much longer to be approved.

Creating the lasting change that is compulsory and needs to be done in a ferocious, timely manner as global warming only continues to grow in severity.

Ultimately, the ruling of the Supreme Court of the United States in West Virginia vs. EPA will only make achieving net-zero carbon emissions or the process to mitigate climate change even more difficult. 

What about Greenly?

If reading this article about the supreme court in the U.S blocking the EPA has made you interested in reducing your carbon emission to further fight against climate change – Greenly can help you!

Greenly can help you make an environmental change for the better, starting with a carbon footprint assessment to know how much carbon emissions your company produces.

Click here to learn more about Greenly and how we can help you reduce your carbon footprint. 

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