Today's Supreme Court decision to hamstring the Environmental Protection Agency, if left as is, will make capping our carbon emissions a Herculean task—as if it weren't already. This change limits the agency's ability to curb pollution without specific authority from the dysfunctional US Congress.
"In essence, the ruling begins to strip away the power of agencies such as the E.P.A. to enforce policy: instead of allowing federal agencies to enforce, say, the Clean Air Act to clean the air, in this new dispensation, Congress would have to pass regulations that are much more explicit, as each new pollutant came to the fore." —Bill McKibben, journalist, author, and founder of Third Act.
It makes me wonder how this Court can allegedly be pro-life one minute, but then pro-extinction in the next. This shouldn't be about Biden or Trump because we all have a stake in protecting a livable planet for future generations.
The problem is, even though the primary objective of the EPA is to ensure clean air, land, and water for all US citizens, when it does this, businesses must take the long view. Maybe this wouldn't be such a problem if we could all agree the planet is worth protecting; and if Congress would pass legislation on behalf of its citizenry, but the people's interests seem often to be confused with those of the moneyed interests who fund campaigns.
It matters. Air pollution kills in greater numbers than most people realize. According to a report by the American Lung Association, air pollution endangers more than 135 million US citizens and costs $6 billion every year.
For an example of what legislating pollution protections looks like, we can turn to the efforts to ban PFAS, or "forever chemicals." These toxic chemicals, originally used as a flame retardant, are now widely found in our food and water. The health dangers caused by PFAS chemicals came to light in animal and human studies in the 1960s. By the 1990s, the research was in, these chemicals were present in every adult citizen and widely linked to health issues such as fatty liver disease. Only now in 2022 is the ban on these toxic chemicals making any progress. Oh—and by the way, if the legislation is passed, it's the EPA that will be charged with enforcement.
Another problem is that this doesn't only affect the US. If we continue burning fossil fuels at the current rate, climate-changing carbon is our most significant export. It won't matter if other countries develop and profit from green technology because the US will continue to frustrate progress.
If we accept the way climate protection currently works in this country, the floods, fires, and heatwaves will multiply. Let us stand together to reverse this decision. Let us march in the streets. Let us vote for leaders who legislate sane policies backed by science.
Environmental policy has a history of dividing us politically. This is nonsense! We all must get real about protecting a livable planet. We can sign up for local protests and show what we care about. And in November we can actually elect leaders who will put aside power, profit motivations, and political differences to ensure that there's a planet in which children might consider the "pursuit of happiness."
What are your thoughts? How can we come together around this issue?