The Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to fight global warming is hanging in the balance and, unfortunately, it could lose due to efforts funded by the Koch brothers that want to limit the EPA’s moves.
Vice reports that the Supreme Court will make the decision next month as to whether or not it will eliminate the EPA’s ability to combat global warming. The article firmly put the blame on the Koch brothers, billionaires who have been using their fortunes since 1974 to fight government regulation. Vice pointed out that if the Supreme Court rules against the EPA, this would be one of the largest wins in a generation. What’s at stake?
The Case That Could Limit The EPA’s Ability To Fight Global Warming
The case, West Virginia v. the EPA, is focused on how much power the EPA should have to make power plants produce environmentally friendly electricity. The Supreme Court will decide on an answer to this question:
“Does the Environmental Protection Agency have the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions in virtually any industry, so long as it considers cost, non-air impacts, and energy requirements?”
Vice noted that many watching the case think that the only reason the Supreme Court got involved was to set new limits on what the EPA can do. By agreeing to hear the case, it accepted challenges to the EPA regulations that were set by both former Presidents Obama and Trump. Vice stated the obvious here:
“The court agreed to hear arguments over rules that don’t presently exist. That’s why climate activists worry the court is moving forward with an ulterior motive: to take this chance to limit what the EPA can do in the future.
“The fight over these zombie regulations has now evolved into a battle over how much leeway federal agencies, like the EPA, should have to make rules and regulations beyond the explicit language used in congressional legislation.”
Where The Koch Brothers Fit In
The article shares various sources that backed up what the author was pointing out: The Koch network has been a key ally for opposing action to fight climate change. Vice interviewed Christopher Leonard, the author of Kochland: The Secret History of Koch Industries and Corporate Power of America. Leonard said,
“Charles Koch has been in the political influence game since 1974 and the existential, life-or-death battle for Charles Koch is carbon.”
Kert Davies, director of the Climate Investigations Center, told Vice that the Koch network has done more to oppose and deny climate science over the past 30 years than other fossil fuels sources.
“The Koch network of foundations has done more to fund organizations that have both denied climate science and opposed any policy that would solve climate change over the past 30 years than probably any other single fossil fuel source.”
What Does The Koch Network Say?
The Koch network told Vice that the group believed in a cleaner environment but didn’t think government regulation was the answer.
“We all want a cleaner environment, but the way to get there is with bottom-up innovation, not top-down regulation.”
The EPA Is Critical For Fighting Global Warming
The role the EPA plays in combatting global warming is critical. Given the history of the Koch network and its statement, Vice is right: their dreams will come true if the Supreme Court rules against the EPA.
And I do find it odd that the Supreme Court would be worried about what is technically based on a zombie ruling.
Under Obama, the EPA was focused on combating climate change while also growing the economy. During Obama’s time in office, carbon emissions decreased by 9% while the US economy grew by over 10%.
In stark contrast, the EPA was almost an entirely different agency under Trump. Trump’s focus wasn’t on clean air or global warming, and we saw this reflected in the fact that well over 100 environmental laws were dismantled.
Under Biden, the EPA seems to be going back to its normal self. What I don’t agree with is that the agency is shuttering its online archives starting in July. In other words, the public will lose access to some of its vast web resources holding information about important environmental issues, past and present agency activities, and more. Although it’s publicly funded, the public will no longer have access.
One thing is for sure: the EPA plays a critical role in fighting climate change. If that is limited by the Supreme Court, the US will do less to fight climate change.
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