Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach

The Supreme Court Upholds EPA Efforts to Protect Creation

July 18, 2014

  Kelly Donovan

Kelly Donovan

Climate change is an issue getting a lot of press recently. Awareness is critical so that actions can be taken to halt it. During an address to the people in Rome on protecting Creation, Pope Francis said “Safeguard Creation . . . Because if we destroy Creation, Creation will destroy us! Never forget this!” The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been working tirelessly to implement policies to reduce carbon emissions, which have a huge impact on climate change. The agency presented a chart, confirming the fact that something needs to be done, illustrating the US greenhouse-gas emissions by source in 2011 and the US greenhouse-gas emissions by type in 2012, while indicating that carbon emissions accounted for 84 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions in 2012. In response to the results the charts revealed, the EPA promulgated regulations on power plants and other large stationary sources of pollution.

The Supreme Court ruled last week in a 7-2 vote upholding, for the most part, the EPA regulations. The agency had issued a regulation over the polluters responsible for 86 percent of all greenhouse gases, but the Supreme Court reduced the scope of the regulation to those generating 83 percent of all greenhouse gases.  Justice Scalia, who wrote the courts split decision, said the reasoning behind the reduction was that the EPA’s approach “would bring about an enormous and transformative expansion in EPA’s regulatory authority without clear congressional authorization.”

The reduced three percent does not make a significant impact in the outcome of the regulation. The reduction includes some landfills, pulp and paper facilities, electronics plants and chemical production plants. Despite the reduction in the scope of the regulations, the EPA still called the ruling “a win for our efforts to reduce carbon pollution because it allows [the] EPA, states and other permitting authorities to continue to require carbon pollution limits in permits for the largest pollution sources.”