Some legal experts say that the Democratic Party’s meltdown over the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on greenhouse gases and the Environmental Protection Agency is a bunch of hot air.
On Thursday, the high court ruled 6-3 in West Virginia v. The Environmental Protection Agency that the EPA lacked the authority to curb greenhouse gases in order to bring about a transition away from coal energy throughout the country because it was not specifically granted that power by Congress. Democrats accused the Supreme Court of dooming the entire planet with its ruling.
James Coleman, professor of law at the Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law and publisher of the Energy Law Professor, told The Daily Wire that all the ruling means is “that if Congress and the administration want new climate policy, they’ll have to pass it in new legislation.”
Coleman theorized that the decision — authored by Chief Justice John Roberts and affirmed along ideological lines — will actually benefit the American people and not send them to their demise.
“That will be good news for the American people if it means we have more moderate, negotiated, and consistent energy policy, rather than drastic shifts that are making it difficult to invest in long-term energy supplies,” he said in an email.
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) did not see it that way.
“Our planet is on fire, and this extremist Supreme Court has destroyed the federal government’s ability to fight back,” Warren tweeted Thursday. “This radical Supreme Court is increasingly facing a legitimacy crisis, and we can’t let them have the last word.”
Our planet is on fire, and this extremist Supreme Court has destroyed the federal government’s ability to fight back.
This radical Supreme Court is increasingly facing a legitimacy crisis, and we can't let them have the last word.
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) June 30, 2022
Yet as explained by Coleman, the Supreme Court will not have the last word — Congress will.
“Congress could give EPA authority to cap carbon emissions from power plants, but the Court determined that it didn’t,” Coleman added.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said that the decision was “catastrophic.” Fellow “Squad” member Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) added, “Fascist SCOTUS guts the EPA’s ability to regulate carbon emissions, fight climate change.”
“The federal government will be restricted from regulating anything of significance in the absence of a clear Congressional directive to do so,” she added, apparently understanding the decision yet failing to understand Congress is clearly in control of future regulations.
Senator Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) also lamented the decision. George Washington University law professor surmised the denunciation was “a virtual statement of self-loathing like a player complaining of being sent back into the game by the coach.”
…It is a curious sight of a congressional leader denouncing a decision that prevents the circumvention of Congress. It is a virtual statement of self-loathing like a player complaining of being sent back into the game by the coach.
— Jonathan Turley (@JonathanTurley) June 30, 2022
Daren Bakst, a Heritage Foundation senior research fellow focusing on environmental policy and regulation, told The Daily Wire that if the EPA wanted the authority to enact the kind of regulation found in the Clean Power Plan, then the answer is really “simple.”
As explained by SCOTUSblog, the “dispute began in 2015 with the Obama administration’s adoption of the Clean Power Plan, a rule that sought to combat climate change by reducing carbon pollution from power plants. The plan never went into effect, however: Several states and private plaintiffs challenged it in federal court, and a divided Supreme Court put it on hold in February 2016.”
Once President Donald Trump came into power, his administration repealed the Clean Power Plan and instituted a different set of rules known as the “ACE Rule.”
In January 2021, “the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated the repeal of the Clean Power Plan, vacated the ACE Rule, and sent the issue back to the EPA for more proceedings. The Supreme Court then granted a request by Republican-led states and coal companies to review that ruling; meanwhile, the Biden administration EPA has indicated that it will not reinstate the Clean Power Plan and is instead drafting its own rules on greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants,” according to SCOTUSblog.
That was challenged by a handful of conservative states, resulting in the ruling against the EPA>
“Congress, not the EPA, has the lawmaking power under the United States Constitution,” Bakst said. “The EPA forgot this. In fact, it too often forgets that it is an agency of bureaucrats charged with implementing laws, not elected officials charged with creating laws.”
Bakst clarified that Supreme Court’s decision rested on what is known as “the Major Questions Doctrine.” As described by one law firm, “The concept behind the Major Questions Doctrine is that the Court should not assume that Congress delegated important policy decisions to government agencies unless it has done so explicitly.”
Bakst said that in this case, the EPA “wasn’t acting pursuant to clear delegation” from Congress.
By Friday, it would appear that Warren had “got the memo” that the world is not doomed and that the Court simply took the decision out of the EPA’s hands.
“This radical Supreme Court’s decision to gut the EPA’s ability to rein in on big polluters is devastating,” Warren tweeted. “But this court doesn’t get the last word. Congress can restore the EPA’s power to fight climate change, and we should pass meaningful reforms to address this crisis.”