Down But Not OutComing to terms with West Virginia v EPA, and mapping the way forward.

Like many, we were left discouraged and disappointed by the Supreme Court's ruling on June 30th that limited the EPA's authority to regulate carbon emissions. While we have no illusions about the severity of this decision, we must not resort to doomsday thinking either. There is still room for optimism. But now more than ever, it is clear that leadership on this issue will not come from the Federal Government. Instead, it is our responsibility as businesses and individuals to do what is necessary to fight climate change, not because it has been legislated, but because it is the right thing to do.

In situations like this, we look to our climate grantees for their perspectives on how this decision impacts their on-the-ground work and what must be done next. Here's what they had to say:

 

The Solutions Project

“In a series of quick decisions undermining decades of legal precedent, the Supreme Court chose to make us less safe and free. Yesterday’s decision shows that the majority of justices do not care about public health or addressing the climate crisis – the most urgent issues of our times. Without action from congress and the White House, their decisions will result in more lives lost as the climate crisis worsens and pollution disproportionately harms Black, Indigenous, women, immigrants, low-income, and other People of Color communities. This is an abuse of power.

However, the power doesn’t only sit with the court; power sits with the people. Grassroots organizers helped turn out voters in record numbers, electing a President and legislators who can take action, today. In fact, yesterday we celebrated Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson taking her rightful seat on the Supreme Court, a victory from the grassroots. Local communities don’t wait for the federal government to lead or save us – people power is already leading and tackling the climate crisis and improving the health and lives of those on the frontlines and beyond. They are implementing solutions that protect us all.”

– Gloria Walton, CEO and President of The Solutions Project.

Read the full statement here.

 

Fresh Energy

“While a significant national setback for climate, this decision does not affect Minnesota’s ability to achieve its carbon goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and retire coal plants. Minnesota has made significant progress on clean energy policy over the past 20 years without relying on federal greenhouse gas requirements. Today’s ruling is further affirmation of the importance of this state-specific work and the investment Minnesota has made in our clean energy future.”

– J. Drake Hamilton, Senior Director of Science Policy at Fresh Energy

Read the full statement here.

 

Climate Generation

“Apathy is unacceptable – we all need to participate in our democracy and support Congress to enact effective regulations, now is the time to call your elected officials. And don’t stop working together across our communities to address the climate crisis and improve the lives of people in our communities.”

The natural question for all of us is, “so what can we do?”

  • Talk to your friends, family, loved ones, and even strangers about climate change.
  • Vote for climate-committed candidates that understand what is at stake.
  • Contact your legislators in Congress and share your support for federal climate action.
  • Push for changes supporting a just transition from fossil fuels to clean energy
  • Celebrate decision makers, utilities, and companies that are making the changes required to move our society toward a clean energy economy.
  • Personalize local climate change impacts happening in your communities by informing others and supporting progressive climate policy.

– Kristen Poppleton, Senior Director of Programs at Climate Generation

Read the full statement here.

 

Protect Our Winters

“Imagine yourself in a raft on a commercial trip down the Gauley River in West Virginia (a serious class IV) where critical decisions have to be made quickly to avoid disaster. Instead of allowing the knowledgeable guide to make the calls, the company sets a new policy requiring a 51% majority of the crew to vote on a plan for how to navigate each rapid. With this ruling, the court is taking the position that according to the US Constitution the EPA does not have the authority to implement plans on how to regulate carbon pollution from power plants (frustrating, since regulating pollution is the agency’s raison d’etre).

The ruling requires Congress to legislate a clear mandate before any agency can act and has implications far beyond the defunct Clean Power Plan. It sets a precedent that handicaps the effectiveness of all agencies under the Executive Branch including the Department of Interior, Energy, Transportation, etc. Agencies that we have entrusted with the power to execute the mandate of a democratically-elected administration because of their expertise in their areas of purview. The Supreme Court was never intended to be responsible for setting policy and administrative agencies shouldn’t have to wait on Congress to do the work they are best at.

The Clean Air Act, a bipartisan, unanimous foundational environmental law passed in 1970 under the Nixon Administration laid out a mandate for the EPA to use “the best system of emissions reduction” for polluting power plants. Sure, it didn’t specifically say that the EPA can regulate a state’s overall energy mix, but moving away from coal is the best way to reduce carbon pollution.

Now, we must rely on Congress to pass legislation that reiterates the EPA’s authority to require states to reduce carbon pollution from the power sector. Congress is divided and slow to act, especially on climate issues. We must change that.

The urgency for a transition away from carbon pollution to clean energy is clear. We need a Congress that will put stewardship of the environment and our common ground, the land, above political bickering. As a member of the Outdoor State, you have a role to play. Today’s tough draw requires us to show up in our democracy; speak out to advocate for clean air, and most of all vote for a healthy planet that can sustain the places we live and lifestyles we love.

Midterm elections are coming this fall. VOTE.”

– Mario Molina, Executive Director of Protect Our Winters

Read the full statement here.

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