Supreme Court Climate Crisis Case

Ava Stuzin, Multimedia Photo Editor

Despite the ongoing climate crisis, the Supreme Court is considering a landmark case that could permanently ban the Environmental Protection Agency’s power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. The decision made by the high court could tear apart President Biden’s plans to split the nation’s greenhouse emissions in half to prevent the disastrous impacts of climate change.

On Feb. 28, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments for West Virginia v. EPA, which is considered an unusual lawsuit for the court as it is not based on any current EPA rules. Instead, the case depends on prior EPA actions.

West Virginia v. EPA is the culmination of many years of lawsuits that first began in 2015 under President Barack Obama’s administration after the EPA published its Clean Power Plan. Under the Clean Air Act, the Obama administration prepared to mandate each state to lower their carbon dioxide emissions by mainly replacing coal-fired power plants with solar energy and other environmentally beneficial resources.

However, the Clean Power Plan was never implemented, due to a significant amount of lawsuits from Republican states. After President Donald Trump came into office, he instituted a new plan that had the same function. On the last day of his presidency, a federal appeals court found that the Trump administration had misconstrued the law and abandoned the Trump plan. This opened the opportunity for the Biden Administration to create its own regulations, but this plan has yet to be completed. 

Currently, West Virginia Attorney General (R) Patrick Morrisey is attempting to weaken the EPA’s powers, joined by a union of 19 states, coal companies and others.

Suppressing the EPA is not only harmful to the government, but it also has the potential to hurt the ideals that the United States has made public to fight climate change. President Biden promised that the United States would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2030.

However, the president’s climate plan failed to pass the Senate due to a lack of support, and now his administration’s EPA may face even greater limitations in its ability to implement regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.