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US Supreme Court split in crucial climate hearing

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The hearing focused on the ability of the (federal) Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants, which produce almost 20% of electricity in United States.

This assignment is exactly spring agency, said progressive judge Sonia Sotomayor. But several conservative judges appeared skeptical.

Arguing for a coal mining business, lawyer Jacob Roth felt that the prerogatives of theEnvironmental Protection Agency were going too far. The Agency asks questions like: should we get out of the coal industry? Should we build more solar panels in the country? […] These are not questions for an agency to answer.

In 2007, the Supreme Court decided, by a narrow majority, that theEnvironmental Protection Agency was competent to regulate the emissions of gases responsible for global warming, in the same way that it is charged by a law of the 1960s with limiting air pollution.

Trump’s Touch

People in poncho raincoats walk down a street flooded by heavy rain.

Hurricane Elsa hit Key West, Florida last July with heavy rain and high winds (on file).

Photo: AP/Rob O’Neal

But since then, former Republican President Donald Trump, a climatosceptic hostile to any binding measure for the industry, has brought three magistrates into the temple of American law, cementing his conservative majority (six judges out of nine).

The hearing took place, coincidentally, on the day of the publication of a new report by climate experts from theUnited Nations, making a clear statement on the catastrophic impacts of climate change. Concretely, the file finds its source in an ambitious plan adopted in 2015 by Barack Obama to reduce CO emissions.2. This Clean Power Planthe implementation of which fell to theEnvironmental Protection Agencyhad been blocked before entering into force.

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In 2019, Donald Trump published his own rule for affordable clean energylimiting the field of action of theEnvironmental Protection Agency within each site, without allowing it to remodel the entire network.

A federal court having invalidated this draft, several conservative states and the coal industry asked the Supreme Court to intervene and clarify the powers of theEnvironmental Protection Agency.

A charred tree trunk.

The traces of the 2020 forest fires are still visible around Lake Oroville in the summer of 2021 when several regions of the western United States were affected by a major drought.

Photo: TurnedNews.com / Jean-François Bélanger

According to Elizabeth Prelogar, who was defending the administration of Joe Biden on Monday, the judges should wait for the publication of the new rules of theEnvironmental Protection Agencyexpected before the end of the year.

Joe Biden has indeed made it known that he does not intend to resurrect Barack Obama’s plan, and his administration had asked the High Court to declare the file obsolete.

Conservative states and industrialists are thus in reality seeking toEPA in upcoming regulations”,”text”:”restrict the authority of in upcoming regulations”}}”>restrict the authority ofEnvironmental Protection Agency in future regulationssaid Elizabeth Prelogar.

Another difficulty for Joe Biden

Joe Biden eyes down at documents.

A huge social and environmental spending plan led by Joe Biden recently failed in Congress (archives).

Photo: Getty Images/Drew Angerer

On Monday, the Tory majority in the High Court seemed interested in the possibility of sending a message (…), by preventing government agencies from adopting regulations with broad economic and political repercussionsjudged Robert Percival, professor of environmental law at the University of Maryland.

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In an argument sent ahead of the hearing, West Virginia, which is bringing the action, accused theEnvironmental Protection Agency to behave like central energy planning authority. That strips states of their traditional authority, with no clear sign of congressional approvalshe had written.

Prior to the hearing, Richard Lazarus, professor of environmental law at Harvard University, felt that there was good reasons to think that the Court follows this reasoning, and says that Congress has no right to delegate its regulatory power (…) or only by using very precise language.

Given the paralysis of Congress, where a huge social and environmental spending project led by Joe Biden has just failed, such a shutdown would threaten the government’s ability to address the most pressing issues, not just global warminghe pointed out.

To avoid this scenario, several environmental defenders had written to the Court. Without efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, temperatures could rise by up to 5.6 degrees, climatologists reminded him. And minimize the impact of climate change requires coordination at the federal level.

Left-wing elected officials, including Senator Bernie Sanders, have been more offensive. For them, the progress made in the 20and century in terms of longer lifespans have been made possible by the administrative agencies that have curbed the excesses of the industry. According to them, this file is the product of resentment Of the industry.

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