Environmental justice advocates slam Supreme Court ruling

Supreme Court decision to limit How the Environmental Protection Agency regulates carbon dioxide emissions from power plants could make matters worse for those most affected by climate change and air pollution, advocates say.

Environmental and climate justice advocates from across the U.S. are condemning the court’s 6-3 ruling, saying it is felt most by communities of color and underprivileged communities. close to power plant higher than the national average. They called on the EPA to find alternative ways to limit carbon dioxide emissions and other forms of air pollution, and asked Congress to authorize the agency to do so.

the court did not ban EPA In fact, Chief Justice John Roberts said that from regulating carbon emissions limit carbon emissions Keeping the U.S. away from coal-fired power ‘may be sensible for the current crisis’.

Still, advocates say the ruling puts vulnerable communities at greater risk of harm due to the effects of climate change and air pollution. They are also concerned about the EPA’s ability to enforce other fundamental environmental laws, such as the Clean Water Act.

Monique Harden, assistant director of law and policy at the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, told the Supreme Court’s decision that the ruling “denies black and other communities of color and poverty that is overly exposed to power plant pollution and vulnerable to climate change.” Community Relief.” The Associated Press.

Harden’s organization has done extensive research on the impact of heavy industry on people living along the Mississippi River Chemical Corridor (also known by some as Cancer Alley), a stretch of petrochemical plants and oil refineries.

The corridor touches New Orleans and Baton Rouge, two cities that have experienced intense storm surges and hurricanes worsened by climate change over the past 20 years. There is a power plant in Baton Rouge, Big Indian IIwith two coal-fired units owned by Cleco Power.

Thousands of miles to the west, the Supreme Court ruling similarly shocked Daryl Molina Sarmiento, executive director of Communities for a Better Environment. She said the ruling is part of a decades-long effort by the fossil fuel industry to deprive the EPA of its ability to protect vulnerable communities, including those living with power plants.

“Because the entire western grid is connected, polluting power plants southeast of Los Angeles can power wealthy white communities in Utah,” she said. When California imports power from coal-fired power plants in Arizona and in the lowlands, the situation is also like this. – She said the income communities of color around them are polluted.

In a news conference with the Green New Deal Network, a coalition of national environmental groups, U.S. Rep. Jamal Bowman expressed concern that the decision could set a precedent that would limit the ability of regulators to protect human health.

“This ruling could undermine all kinds of regulations around saving lives and promoting well-being. We can’t, we can’t, we’re not going to let this court stop us,” he said. A Biden administration must declare a climate emergency immediately and use everything available power. “

While carbon dioxide is not a health hazard, many other pollutants that are harmful to the respiratory system, such as particulate matter and nitrogen oxides, are often emitted with it. A recent study It has been shown that people of color are disproportionately exposed to this type of air pollution.

“We have a responsibility to respond at this time because we cannot put the price on those most vulnerable,” said Senator Ed Markey, who was also on the call. “It’s up to those of us who have been empowered and privileged to stand up and fight alongside them in this fight.”


Follow Drew Costley on Twitter: @drewcostley.


The Associated Press Health and Science Division was supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Division of Science Education. The Associated Press is solely responsible for all content.

AP climate and environmental reporting is supported by several private foundations. See more about the Associated Press climate initiative here. The Associated Press is solely responsible for all content.

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