More Responses to SCOTUS-ocolypse

July 1, 2022

“Could have been worse” is cold comfort in an extinction event.

Ben Inskeep is Program Director of the Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana.

Ben Inskeep on Twitter:

Seeing a lot of Very Serious People On Here trying to parse the West Virginia v. EPA ruling to say EPA can still regulate CO2, use other sections of the CAA or other tools, etc., and that we

I have bad news for you folks.🧵 

While in this case SCOTUS did thread a needle, the principles used to justify (1) hearing this moot case and then (2) ruling against the EPA clearly show it doesn’t gaf about enacted legislation, precedent, or deference to expert admin agencies if it can score an ideological win. 

If you have been paying attention the past 2 weeks, or the past 2+ decades, it is clear that the majority want to transmogrify our country into radically conservative Christian Theocracy and are not afraid of breaking norms to get there. 

Sure, EPA can promulgate new climate regulations on the power sector. But those will also be challenged in court by fossil fuel and ideological interests.

Do you really think that this Supreme Court will uphold those? How could you after the judicial coup we are witnessing. 

In Massachusetts v. EPA (2007), the Court ruled 5-4 that EPA must regulate CO2 if its causing climate change. 15 years later, we still have no power sector CO2 rules. And the Court now seems poised to overturn that case the first chance it gets. 

So if you are banking on a Joe Biden EPA issuing new stringent CO2 regulations on the scale and timeline that we need, and then SCOTUS upholding those regulations, well, I think that’s a bit naïve and you’re setting yourself up for more disappointment. 

Daniel Brown is a photographer/climatologist.

Dave Roberts is a well known writer on energy and climate, and produces the Volts newsletter and podcast.

David Roberts on Twitter:

All right, I’m just getting to my computer & reading around, but it sounds like the SCOTUS EPA ruling is about as good (“good”) as could have been hoped for. EPA authority over CO2 remains intact. Regulations just have to be “inside the fenceline.” Of the options … 

… that’s about the narrowest one that was on the table. 

Nonetheless, it’s worth emphasizing: “major questions” doctrine, which Roberts leans on to strike down the (never-implemented) CPP, is bullshit. Utter Calvinball bullshit. Imagined into being. Rectally extracted. 

Kagan’s dissent makes the point fiercely: Congress has been delegating “big” things to agencies from the time of the nation’s founding. There’s no hint in the constitution or in history that it intended to confine agencies to “minor” questions. It’s absolutely made up. 

The vagueness of “major questions” is the point: it allows conservative judges to rule against any program they don’t like. There’s no test for major, no metric, no definition — it’s just old-conservative-guy vibes. “Eh … feels major.” 

Needless to say, the court’s radicals (as evidenced in their concurrence) are champing at this bit to apply this vibes-based test to all kinds of other agency actions. The doctrine itself may end up doing huge damage. But on this case, at least, it could have been much worse. 

BTW, if you want more on the legal background and the questions at play, listen to this pod.

Justice Kagan’s dissent is now on my reading list.

5 Responses to “More Responses to SCOTUS-ocolypse”

  1. jimbills Says:

    The EPA regulations were virtually the only thing we have been doing to control emissions the last 20+ years – and for that matter, protect the public from the other externalities of energy, mining, and chemical corporations. So, we can’t pass real legislation in a deadlocked Congress, we’ve lost any support from the courts for at least a decade, and now we can’t even effectively regulate it in the executive branch.

    It’s beyond bad.

  2. ubrew12 Says:

    Coal exhaust kills as many Americans as car accidents each year (about 40,000), and the EPA is charged with saving those lives. Is there any way to decide, unilaterally, that these are no longer ‘acceptable losses’ and shut those coal plants down? This would be especially true since many affordable alternatives exist today. Don’t even mention carbon dioxide. Shut them down due to their other pollutants.

  3. Brent Jensen-Schmidt Says:

    With no nastiness at all. Cartoon seen.
    P1. I want to go back in time.
    P2. Buy a ticket to the USA.

  4. Gingerbaker Says:

    Taking CO2 regulation away from the EPA means that Exxon becomes more responsible for the GHG emissions of its product.


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