Green organizations want action taken against a top EPA enforcement official, the federal government may be running out of time to take real climate change action, and the grid operator in Texas encourages energy saving.
US climate efforts face significant obstacles
The latest blow to American efforts to combat climate change is a 6-3 Supreme Court decision that limits the EPA’s (Environmental Protection Agency) ability to limit emissions from power plants. This decision contributes to a renewed sense of doubt that the U.S. political system will address the issue at the federal level.
The ruling, which was supported by the court’s conservative majority, places a new restriction on the EPA but does not invalidate state government attempts to protect the environment.
Additionally, it shows that the Supreme Court is open to future restrictions on the administration’s power over the EPA and other areas. The three conservative justices that former President Trump appointed have significantly pushed the court to the right; this change could have a long-term impact on the court.
Republicans in elected government continue to oppose action on climate change, and they seem certain to regain control of the House and perhaps the Senate this fall.
And even if Democrats maintain their majority in the Senate, Sen. Joe Manchin‘s resistance has prevented them thus far from passing significant climate change legislation (D-W.Va.).
What choices are the government left with? In order to combat climate change, the Biden administration has set a number of ambitious goals, one of which is to cut national emissions in half by 2030. An executive order that will make the federal government carbon neutral by 2050 was also signed by President Biden.
However, recent Supreme Court rulings and Congressional paralysis, as well as the possibility of a Trump candidacy—who withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Accord and cast doubt on the science behind climate change—threatens to undermine these goals.
The conservative Supreme Court and a highly divided Congress, according to Barry Rabe, an environmental policy expert at the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment, are a “serious set of restraints on the executive branch.”
How about the states? States governed by Democrats may be able to take up some of the slack in environmental policy. The harshest automobile emissions regulations in the country were passed by California, and a dozen other states have now copied them, creating a patchwork system around the country.
Action at the state level is crucial, according to Jason Smerdon, a professor at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, given the impasse in Congress.
However, according to experts, state-level action cannot replace federal-level action.
Sasha Mackler, executive director of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s energy program, stated that “climate policy is environmental policy, it’s economic policy, and it’s going to require the establishment of many different policy levers and actions over time to really address the issue.”
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