Many States Affected by the Supreme Court Decision in “WV vs. EPA”

by Duane Nichols on July 3, 2022

Mother Earth is getting no respect in WV or at the Supreme Court

Pennsylvania reaction to the Supreme Court’s climate decision
From an Article of The Allegheny Front, Pittsburgh, July 1, 2022
This week, Pennsylvania environment and energy leaders react to the Supreme Court’s EPA climate ruling. Plus, we revisit stories in the series Farmers Wanted, which examines the challenges of cultivating a new generation of farmers in Pennsylvania. We also have a conversation with the author of a speculative novel about survival after climate disaster and plastic pollution.

And, we have news about air quality in Allegheny County, and a Pittsburgh visit by the U.S. Energy Secretary, who said the fight against climate change is the “war of our lifetimes.”

Now we are closer to the ‘climate cliff’ if not in a climate emergency! In a 6-3 majority decision, the Supreme Court struck down a now-defunct rule by the Obama EPA that would have shifted electricity generation away from coal to cleaner natural gas, wind and solar. “A decision of such magnitude and consequence rests with Congress itself,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts for the majority.

Environmental groups, state officials, the coal industry and lawyers weigh in:

David Masur, executive director of PennEnvironment: “The Supreme Court just made the monumental task of cleaning up our air and reducing climate-warming pollution much, much harder. We have limited time to reign in our climate pollution, before we fall off a climate cliff from which the planet cannot come back.”

Rachel Gleason, executive director of the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance: “Coal’s a global commodity. So it really has ebbs and flows depending on what is happening globally. Because of Russia’s conflict with Ukraine, there’s a global energy crisis…and right now, [Europe is] turning their coal plants back on, so I think these kinds of overreaching policy decisions are not meant for bureaucratic agencies that change every four or eight years.”

Alex Bomstein, director of litigation for Clean Air Council: He said these types of “major questions” arguments could now be pushed more often. “Whether the Pennsylvania courts decide to take those parties up on that and try to adopt federal law as Pennsylvania law is a question I don’t know the answer to and I think we’ll be watching.”

Rob Altenburg, director for energy and climate for PennFuture: “We don’t know what the next step is going to be, but we do know that we need to get to net-zero by 2050. We have an Environmental Rights Amendment…and the Air Pollution Control Act…so this decision isn’t applicable to the state.”

John Dernbach, director of the Environmental Law and Sustainability Center at Widener University Commonwealth Law School: He said it’s “distressing” that the court took up the case when it didn’t have to, as a vehicle for limiting executive power. He doesn’t see the ruling affecting the Wolf Administration’s attempt to regulate CO2 because Pennsylvania has its own law governing air pollution that gives the state DEP authority, as well as an Environmental Rights Amendment.

Ramez Ziadeh, Acting Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection: “The ruling undercuts good-faith efforts to fight climate change, but that does not mean we will stop fighting.”

A major effort of the Wolf administration has been joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a cap-and-trade program with 11 other states to reduce carbon emissions from power plants. But Pennsylvania’s participation in RGGI hinges on the state’s next governor. Republican nominee Doug Mastriano has promised to remove the state from RGGI on his first day, if elected, while Democratic nominee Josh Shapiro has expressed doubts about RGGI.


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