Politics

With West Virginia v. EPA, the Supreme Court could do more than just upend the Clean Air Act

Attorneys general from pollution-heavy states have been in agreement on hampering the EPA’s power, as well as many other issues they believe will earn them favor from Donald Trump.

The Supreme Court has yet to issue its opinion on West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, but it’s certainly on the minds of Americans with a vested interest in the U.S. reaching its net-zero goals. According to a recent Data for Progress survey, a majority of voters—63%—are at least somewhat concerned about the case’s outcome, which could inhibit the EPA from enforcing the Clean Air Act. The Supreme Court has already indicated it’s more concerned with theoretical matters like the major question doctrine than the practicality and moral imperative of holding major emitters like energy companies accountable for their pollution. With an expected bleak outcome given SCOTUS’ opinion on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, it’s worth diving into why the highest court in the country—and the entire judicial system—is willing to destroy the planet.

Dartagnan does a great job of illustrating this, drawing from a recent New York Times article on how former president Donald Trump was able to pack courts across the country with judges who unquestioningly issued injunctions and ruled in the favor of polluters and those sympathetic to the oil and gas industry. In turn, many of those justices were rewarded by those within the fossil fuel sector through donations. That carries over to the Supreme Court as well, where the Federalist Society, an organization also benefitting from the oil and gas industry’s largesse, essentially hand-picked the justices Trump nominated who now sit on the court, including Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, and Neil Gorsuch. On the lower courts, Trump appointed more than 200 judges.




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