U.S. Supreme Court Decision Has Dangerous Implications in Fight To Confront the Climate Crisis and Achieve Economic Security

Ceres CEO, a former regional EPA administrator, reacts to today’s ruling that will restrict statutory authority of the EPA to regulate climate pollution.
Jun 30, 2022 1:00 PM ET
Press Release

June 30, 2022 /3BL Media/ - The U.S. Supreme Court decision today in the case of West Virginia v. EPA “endangers our country’s ability to effectively confront the climate crisis, the greatest economic, environmental, and humanitarian threat of our time,” said Mindy Lubber, Ceres CEO and President and former EPA regional administrator. “It flies in the face of established precedent and imperils the economy, as well as the health and safety of communities across the U.S. and the globe.”

Lubber added, “Restricting the U.S. government’s ability to regulate carbon pollution deals an enormous blow to our country’s ability to mitigate the already-catastrophic human and financial costs of climate change and carries far-reaching implications for the U.S. economy and the American public. U.S. states continue to move forward with ambitious, economy-wide climate solutions and reap the benefits of the transition to affordable, reliable, and secure domestic clean power, such as reduced energy costs for businesses and consumers, well-paying jobs across industries, and improved air quality for all. The climate crisis requires ambitious action from both the private and public sectors, and from all levels of government, and this decision threatens our country’s ability to confront this crisis at the pace and scale science says is necessary.”

Today’s ruling also underscores the urgent need for Congress to pass an economic package with ambitious federal clean energy investments in the coming weeks. The Biden administration has taken significant action to ensure the U.S. leads the clean energy transition. Now Congress must do the same by acting swiftly to pass legislation with ambitious clean energy investments. The federal case was brought to court by West Virginia along with several other states and coal companies to challenge the EPA’s authority and obligation to use the Clean Air Act—which was passed and amended by bipartisan majorities under Republican presidents—to regulate power plant carbon emissions. U.S. emissions from power plants are primary drivers of the climate crisis and pose risks to the U.S. economy and society at large.

“Most Fortune 500 companies are already moving to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions voluntarily,” Lubber said. “Still, forward-thinking state policymakers and leading U.S. companies — along with their investors and consumers — understand and acknowledge that even their powerful actions will not be enough to slow the onslaught of devastating heatwaves, wildfires, and drought. Smart, stable nationwide emissions regulations, whether for power plants, automobiles, industry, or oil and gas facilities, are needed for the U.S. to capture these benefits and lead the world in the transition to a more just, innovative, and sustainable economy.”

EPA has long held the authority to regulate harmful pollutants, including carbon, and there is significant U.S. business support for the certainty and economic benefits that regulation provides. In January, 15 leading companies filed an amicus 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.”

“Industry-leading companies, with millions of employees, sent a powerful message that there is a better way forward,” Lubber added. “The incomprehensible decision to discard established precedent by limiting the EPA’s ability to reduce carbon pollution hamstrings our government’s ability to confront the climate crisis and capture the economic opportunities of the clean energy transition. Major U.S. companies also support Congressional action on climate, which is now more important than ever if we are to mitigate climate-related disasters, protect communities, reduce costs, and bolster local economies nationwide.”

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