Government Authority to Regulate Climate Pollution Is Critical to Our Ability to Build a Thriving Clean Energy Economy

The U.S. Supreme Court must dismiss West Virginia vs. EPA, as it would have dangerous implications in the fight to mitigate the growing climate crisis.
Feb 28, 2022 3:00 PM ET
Press Release

February 28, 2022 /3BL Media/ - The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear oral argument today in a case challenging the federal government’s authority to regulate climate pollution and safeguard the health of people and the planet and our economy. This is one of the most important environmental court cases of our time, risking our country’s ability to confront the climate crisis at the pace and scale science says is necessary.

The case, West Virginia vs EPA, was brought to court by the coal industry and its allies to challenge the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority and obligation to use the Clean Air Act to regulate power plant carbon emissions, a primary driver of the climate crisis. The argument centers around the Clean Power Plan – a 2015 rule that never went effect.

“The court should dismiss this case as it would have dangerous implications, stripping us of our power to fight our greatest economic, environmental, and humanitarian threat. There is no regulation in place to dispute or cause harm to the petitioners by raising electricity costs, as the coal industry and its allies incorrectly suggest would happen by shifting to clean power. The EPA has a long-held authority to regulate harmful pollution, such as carbon pollution, and there is significant business and public support and precedent for them to continue to do so,” said Mindy Lubber, CEO and President of Ceres.

“Taking away the ability of the government to regulate carbon pollution would be an enormous blow to slowing more-damaging extreme weather brought on by climate change, with far reaching implications for the U.S. economy and the American public,” added Lubber, a former EPA Regional Administrator for EPA Region 1. “Even as most Fortune 500 companies are moving voluntarily to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, they, along with their investors, openly acknowledge it isn’t enough to slow warming temperatures that are causing devastating heatwaves, wildfires, and drought. U.S. carbon emissions are still perilously high and that is unlikely to change if the EPA is unable to do its job of enacting nationwide emission limits, whether for power plants, automobiles, or oil and gas facilities.”

U.S. business leaders and the public support the Clean Air Act and the EPA’s ability to help confront the climate crisis. Fifteen leading companies filed a legal brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to reject the case. The businesses, all of whom have made ambitious carbon reducing commitments, include Apple, Amazon, Cummins, Danone North America, Google, Johnson Controls, Levi Strauss & Co., Meta Platforms, Microsoft, Netflix, PayPal, Salesforce, Siemens, Tesla, and Workday.

“Both corporate action and EPA regulation are needed to reduce emissions at the rate necessary to avoid the worst impacts of climate change,” wrote the companies. “Although (they) come from different industries and have varied and sometimes competing interests, they are united in their efforts to combat this threat.”

“Limiting EPA’s ability to reduce carbon emissions will exacerbate climate-related disasters and increase business and economic losses. Doing so will hamstring the government’s ability to confront the climate crisis and create a myriad of disruptions that will be harmful for the economy, people, and the planet. Industry-leading companies, with millions of employees, are sending a powerful message that there is a better way forward,” added Lubber.

Support for EPA action to tamp down on carbon pollution extends beyond these leading businesses: Hundreds of climate activists plan to gather outside the Supreme Court this morning to demonstrate the overwhelming public support for protecting the Clean Air Act and the future of federal climate policy action.

Today’s oral arguments will happen just hours after the release of a key report by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is that unequivocally lays out the catastrophic damage that will hit our ecosystems, communities, and economies due to the inadequate collective response to the climate crisis thus far.

About Ceres

Ceres is a nonprofit organization working with the most influential capital market leaders to solve the world’s greatest sustainability challenges. Through our powerful networks and global collaborations of investors, companies and nonprofits, we drive action and inspire equitable market-based and policy solutions throughout the economy to build a just and sustainable future. For more information, visit ceres.org and follow @CeresNews.

Media Contact: Helen Booth-Tobin, booth-tobin@ceres.org, 617-247-0700 ext. 214