Freedom to Pollute -- The Supreme Court's War on the EPA | Teen Ink

Freedom to Pollute -- The Supreme Court's War on the EPA

July 26, 2022
By Sebibercha BRONZE, Alameda, California
Sebibercha BRONZE, Alameda, California
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

When the Supreme Court decision on abortion rights was made, all I saw on the news was reports on the ruling and updates on the situation. Everyone I knew was distressed. My parents were talking about it at dinner almost every night, and when my friends and I hung out at the park, we would share what we’d heard. When I went to the Fourth of July parade, there were many floats protesting the ruling. It’s a big issue and it deserved all the attention. But no one seemed to be acknowledging the major issue regarding the EPA. I was with my writing tutor when I heard about the Supreme Court’s ruling that limited the EPA’s power to set standards for power plant emissions. With everyone talking about abortion rights, it had flown under the radar for my family. After a bit of research, I began to realize how much of an issue it was. It was yet another action that seemed to be leading to the end of the world instead of saving it. Scientists are always saying that we have to act now to avoid the worst effects of climate change, but it feels like the courts are more concerned with the energy companies’ freedom to pollute than the health of our planet.

The Supreme Court’s decision to limit the EPA’s power is a huge problem. According to Common Dreams, Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan wrote in her dissent, “today, the court strips the Environmental Protection Agency of the power Congress gave it to respond to the most pressing environmental challenge of our time.” I think that one of the biggest problems with the Supreme Court’s decision is that it makes the EPA nearly powerless to lower emissions. The U.S. burns tons of coal and oil, and without a dedicated government body that is able to lower them, the amount of emissions could spiral out of control. Writing for, Mike Ludwig reports that, “The latest United Nations climate report declares that it’s too late to avoid many of the disastrous effects of climate change — in fact, some of them are already here — but we must make drastic reductions in fossil fuel pollution and transform our way of life to thwart the worst impacts.” If we have no government body that is trying to limit emissions, then things will become even more severe than they already are. Some of the effects of climate change are inevitable, but we could prevent the worst of it if we start to reduce emissions. The problem is, the Supreme Court just made the EPA unable to carry out actions to reduce emissions. This problem seems to be huge, and too difficult for the general public to do anything about, so how can we help?

Government officials appear to be doing nothing and letting this happen so we need to pressure them to make change. Ludwig reports that, “After the ruling, environmentalists and climate activists quickly called on Congress to act. Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, said the ruling is not the end of climate action, and called on activists to continue to pressure officials to cut ties with fossil fuels at every level of government.” Lots of government officials don’t want to cut down on fossil fuels because they or some of their donors are involved with fossil fuel production. Driven by their greed and desire to stay in office, they refuse to see the harm fossil fuel emissions cause. If people keep pressuring officials, then eventually they may end their relations with fossil fuel companies and start making changes that will benefit our climate situation. Hauter expands on her idea, saying, “Congress must tackle poisoning climate emissions at their source by curtailing new fossil fuel development before it starts…This includes halting oil and gas exports, which drive demand for expanded drilling and fracking, while raising fuel and energy costs for consumers here at home.” One big problem is that our country is building more drills at an alarming rate. If we are to stop climate change, we need to halt the expansion of fossil fuel production. One way to help stop the expansion is to end fossil fuel exports. The U.S. already produces more fossil fuels than are needed here. If they cannot be exported, then that reduces the desire to extract more fossil fuels.

The decision regarding abortion rights sent shockwaves through the nation, and overshadowed the Supreme Court’s ruling regarding the EPA. But this ruling is a large issue and we need to bring it into the light. The EPA had most of its power removed by the Supreme Court. This is a crisis that must be addressed. If we pressure government officials to the point where they are on the verge of losing their positions, they might eventually stop serving fossil fuel companies and make change for the better. In the last week, Joe Manchin, a senator from West Virginia who receives more money from fossil fuel and energy companies than any other elected official, stopped legislation that could have persuaded companies to go green. If we could pressure people like him out of office, we might be able to change the tide of government climate action.

The author's comments:

I am a rising freshman who loves to play guitar and soccer in my free time. I wrote this piece because the Supreme Court's ruling on the EPA's power baffled and enraged me.

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