SCOTUS EPA Ruling Puts More Pressure on Local Environmental Groups

Photo by Jim Bowen | License

The Supreme Court’s (SCOTUS) decision limiting the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ability to enforce climate policy has laid the groundwork for Republican attorneys general and conservative legal activists across the U.S. In its ruling, the Court embraced what is known as the “major questions doctrine,” a conservative legal theory that states that only Congress can give federal agencies authority to decide issues of “major economic and political significance.”

Although the idea is relatively new, it’s already been shown to be quite popular with the Supreme Court. The idea was cited in the SCOTUS decision to strike down pandemic-era eviction moratoriums imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President Biden’s vaccination-or-testing requirement for large employers, and now, EPA regulation of the energy industry.

“The major questions doctrine didn’t exist until fairly recently, but in the last year or so, the Supreme Court has made it a regular part of its anti-regulatory arsenal,” Richard Revesz, director of the Institute for Policy Integrity at NYU School of Law, told The Climate 202.

“As a result, I am sure that enterprising attorneys general for red states will use it to challenge climate regulations, environmental regulations and all kinds of other regulations,” Revesz said.

For local environmental protection groups, this means even more pressure on them in the fight to protect the environment.

“Without the ability to enforce the laws that protect our communities, Louisiana and its people will continue to be a sacrificial zone for industry’s profit,” said Anne Rolfes, Founding Director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. “To prevent catastrophic flooding and the destruction of our communities, the federal government and the state of Louisiana need more tools – not fewer – to keep our communities healthy and safe in the face of industry’s greed.”

Over the Fourth of July weekend, the Louisiana Bucket Brigade visited Rehoboth Beach – the vacation home of President Biden – to try to gain support for their fight against 12 liquified natural gas (LNG) shipping terminals along the Louisiana Gulf Coast. The hope is that the juxtaposition of pictures of stadium-sized LNG terminals alongside the clear, unobstructed ocean views in Rehoboth would be enough to gain support among both residents and visitors, and give the local fight some national attention.

“We’re asking the people of Rehoboth Beach and on the East Coast to join with us and prevent that [terminal] from happening. They don’t think they’re going to get a fight in Louisiana, but they have a big fight on their hands,” Rolfes said.

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