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Une centrale à charbon

USA: the Supreme Court limits the means of the federal state to fight against global warming

The very conservative Supreme Court of the United States limited on June 30, 2022 the means of the federal State to fight against greenhouse gases, a decision which could have a heavy impact on global warming.

EPA authority challenged by Supreme Court

Its six conservative judges ruled, against the advice of their three progressive colleagues, that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could not enact general rules to regulate emissions from coal-fired power plants, which produce nearly 20% of electricity in the United States. “Putting a limit on carbon dioxide emissions at a level that would require a nationwide move away from coal to generate electricity could be a relevant solution to today’s crisis. But it’s not plausible that Congress gave the EPA the authority to pass such a measure.“, writes the judge John Roberts in this judgment.

Today, the Court stripped the Environmental Protection Agency of the power Congress gave it to address ‘the most pressing problem of our time.‘”, denounces in a separate argument the magistrate Elena Kagan on behalf of progressives, recalling that the six hottest years have been recorded during the last decade. The judgment was immediately welcomed by several Republican governors at the origin of the legal proceedings, but judged “catastrophicby House Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. After last week’s abortion flip-flop, he represents yet another change of footing on the Supreme Court.

An ambitious plan by Barack Obama

In 2007, it had decided by a narrow majority that the EPA was competent to regulate the emissions of gases responsible for global warming, in the same way that it is charged by a law of the 1960s with limiting air pollution. But since then, former Republican President Donald Trump, a climatosceptic hostile to any binding measure for the industry, has brought three magistrates into the temple of American law, cementing his conservative majority (six judges out of nine).

The file finds its source in an ambitious plan adopted in 2015 by Barack Obama to reduce CO emissions2. This “Clean Power Plan”, whose implementation fell to the EPA, had been blocked before coming into force. In 2019, Donald Trump published his own “rule for affordable clean energy“, limiting the scope of the EPA’s action within each electricity production site, without authorizing it to remodel the entire network.

A federal court having invalidated this version, several conservative states and the coal industry asked the Supreme Court to intervene and clarify the powers of the EPA. The government of Democrat Joe Biden had made it known that it did not intend to resurrect Barack Obama’s plan and had asked the High Court to declare the file null and void.



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