Friday, May 26, 2023

Supreme Court weakens EPA authority to enforce Clean Water Act

I am recycling my reaction to the Supreme Court deciding in favor of West Virginia and against the EPA to begin today's post.
This is indeed bad news for fighting climate change and could be a precedent that constrains regulations by many branches of government. The good news is that hasn't happened yet...May we continue to be so lucky.
That luck is running out, as PBS NewsHour reported Supreme Court decision weakens EPA authority, scales back scope of Clean Water Act.

The Supreme Court has again weakened the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency. The case involved the EPA blocking an Idaho couple from building a house near a lake on their property, saying the construction would pollute water protected by the Clean Water Act. William Brangham discussed the case with Coral Davenport.
While the court voted unanimously in favor of the landowners, so that was almost certainly the correct outcome, the opinions supporting that decision are another matter. I am a scientist, not a lawyer, but I think it was possible that the EPA overstepped its authority in this case even with its prior power over wetlands. Instead, it has now lost its ability to regulate half the nation's wetlands. This is great for property owners, but not good for the environment.

The Supreme Court may further restrict the ability of the federal government to regulate in its next term, as Ali Velshi on MSNBC explained in Velshi: This single SCOTUS case could upend our entire regulatory system.

Under the Executive Branch, there are 15 departments, each of which is led by an appointed cabinet member. And within those departments, there are more than 400 distinct agencies and sub-agencies. This is the so-called “Administrative State” that the GOP has been pushing to reform for decades. These agencies, among other functions, are the regulatory bodies on which we rely in nearly every aspect of our daily lives. Last week, the Supreme Court accepted a case that has the potential to upend our governments entire regulatory system.
This could be really bad news, even though a decision is not likely to come for a year or so. I'll be following it, so stay tuned.

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