On June 30th, 2022, the Supreme Court issued a ruling limiting the power of the EPA in its ongoing fight to curb carbon emissions. This ruling also restricts the future regulatory limitations of other environmental agencies aiming to reduce overall carbon emissions.
While this ruling is a blow to the ambitious goals set in place by the EPA and its response to the climate crisis, Michael Regan, head of the EPA assures that they are not “completely out of the game,” (Summers et. al 2022). In a recent interview with NPR, Regan detailed the EPA’s alternate plan of action given this ruling, explicitly highlighting the voices of the American people as important players in the ongoing fight for climate justice (Summers et. al 2022). Lifting our voices, and shedding light on the voices of marginalized people affected by the sting of climate change is so crucial, as climate action not only protects the American people but also our global neighbors. This ruling, while a blow to the role of top institutions as noted by Regan, serves not only as a wake-up call to the general public but also as a catalyst for increased public response and advocacy.
Systemic oppression has played an underlying role in the disproportionate circumstances and treatment of underprivileged communities, and generational environmental racism also cripples those less fortunate. Hazardous proximity to waste sites, failing/dated infrastructure, and a longing resistance to official response have damaged large communities of BIPOC individuals who share the same representatives and government legislation as those with higher financial freedom and executive power.
As our climate crisis continues to unravel and show its effects, many communities lacking proper resources and financial stability will be the first to feel these effects. While legislative rulings such as the SCOTUS’S EPA limitation can limit the extent of advocacy and the grim reality of an emerging climate catastrophe seems rather imminent, we the people can take a stand. Acting as allies to those less fortunate than ourselves, speaking from different perspectives, and uniting as a vocal majority can work wonders towards forwarding legislation left at a stalemate.
We the people, in addition to acting as allies and sustainable stewards accompanying impoverished communities, can go a step further, contacting elected officials both locally and nationally, emphasizing the importance of forwarding legislation addressing the climate crisis. Passing federal legislation regarding climate change means protecting the health and well-being of all people, promoting a cost-efficient and greener economy, and most importantly, ensuring a greener future for a nation stricken with adversity (Summers et. al 2022).
While a difficult situation to tackle, and a topic of divided political discourse, the positives of forwarding legislation regarding climate action far outweigh the negatives. Despite the fact that the ambitious goals set in place by the EPA and other leading agencies have been halted, the voices of a concerned public can help make a difference, and do a world of good, providing healing during a time of widespread division.
If you are interested in contacting your local officials (Massachusetts): https://www.boston.gov/departments/intergovernmental-relations/federal-and-state-elected-officials
If you are interested in contacting local environmental justice organizations: https://www.mass.gov/orgs/massachusetts-department-of-environmental-protection
Summers, J., Lonsdorf, K., & Yu, M. (2022, July 1). The EPA prepares for its 'counterpunch' after the Supreme Court ruling. NPR. Retrieved July 11, 2022, from https://www.npr.org/2022/07/01/1109486052/epa-supreme-court-emissions-target-ruling
Totenberg, N. (2022, June 30). Supreme Court restricts the EPA's authority to mandate carbon emissions reductions. NPR. Retrieved July 18, 2022, from https://www.npr.org/2022/06/30/1103595898/supreme-court-epa-climate-change