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Supreme Court’s Latest Ruling Severely Limits EPA’s Ability to Fight Climate Change

The Supreme Court's latest ruling will severely limit the Environmental Protection Agency's ability to fight climate change. Here's what we know so far.

Written by
Tehrene Firman

Climate change is already impacting our lives, from causing extreme weather events to affecting childcare and education. Unfortunately, instead of trying to solve these issues, the Supreme Court has made a ruling that will have serious implications on how the federal government can protect our planet.

The Supreme Court, in a 6-3 ruling, has limited the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s ability to regulate carbon emissions from power plants that contribute to global warming. This comes during a time when the planet needs us the most, with 200 leading scientists warning that global climate change is accelerating at a rapid pace in a landmark report last year.

"Whatever else this Court may know about, it does not have a clue about how to address climate change," wrote Justice Elena Kagan in a dissent to the court's decision. "The Court appoints itself—instead of Congress or the expert agency—the decision-maker on climate policy. I cannot think of many things more frightening."

So, what does this ruling mean, exactly? Bloomberg Law sums it up, saying "the majority said while the EPA can regulate power plant emissions, the agency can’t try to shift power generation away from fossil-fuel plants to cleaner sources, as Obama’s Clean Power Plan sought to do."

This decision will make President Joe Biden's goal of the energy sector running on clean energy by 2035 much more difficult—if not impossible—to achieve "without regulations to stifle greenhouse gases from oil wells, automobiles, and power plants, as well as tax incentives designed to spur clean energy."

According to Kevin Minoli, a former senior official in the EPA’s Office of General Counsel, this decision doesn't mean the end of President Biden's agenda, but "the administration will now have to quickly assess which regulatory actions it can still move forward on and which actions it must rethink or abandon."

It goes without saying that this news is devastating for planet champions everywhere. But just remember: In times like this when feelings of hopelessness are at an all-time high, we still have the ability to take small steps toward a more sustainable future. Because in true Brightly fashion, we won't let this planet go down without a fight.