(Update: Adding Oregon DEQ director statement)
SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum reacted with dismay to Thursday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling that limited how the nation’s main anti-air pollution law can be used to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.
First, Rosenblum's statement:
The U.S. Supreme Court dealt another severe blow to our climate today in a case that addresses the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan.
“Today’s decision in West Virginia v. EPA—which hamstrings the Environmental Protection Agency in its ability to address greenhouse gas emissions from power plants under section 111(d) of the federal Clean Air Act—is deeply disturbing. That’s because reducing power plant emissions is an essential part of addressing our climate crisis,” said Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum.
Oregon has been involved in this litigation over the EPA’s right to regulate greenhouse gases from power plants since 2015. Together with a coalition of states, Oregon successfully challenged the Trump Administration’s repeal of the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era regulation limiting emissions from existing power plants.
What makes this radical act by the Court so blatant: There is no federal rule currently in effect for coal companies and Republican-led states to challenge—the Clean Power Plan had never gone into effect. Perhaps more telling: Not a single power company petitioned the Court for review. In fact, several of the nation’s biggest power companies opposed the review.
“This ruling,” said Rosenblum, “is another reminder we are dealing with a new Supreme Court where a majority of the justices have demonstrated little regard for past legal precedent. This chilling ruling curtails the federal government’s ability to protect us from greenhouse gases and carbon emissions under this part of the Clean Air Act. I will continue to work hand-in-hand with like-minded state AGs on strategies to mitigate climate harms in a comprehensive manner at both the federal and state levels.”
“We will not be derailed,” Rosenblum added. “Our future—and our children’s and grandchildren’s—depends on stepping up this critical work and never giving up.”
Sen. Ron Wyden's statement:
“The Supreme Court’s effort to protect polluters that spew poison into our air and water continues apace. The Republicans on the Supreme Court are not going to allow any meaningful administration efforts to combat climate change. It’s crystal clear. The only way to tackle this problem is through congressional action, which is why it’s so important that Congress pass our clean energy tax credit package.”
Merkley: Supreme Court Decision Guts EPA’s Authority to Combat Climate Chaos
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley issued the following statement after the US Supreme Court released their decision in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):
“The American people don’t want dirty air, extreme weather, and climate chaos. But that is what the right-wing Supreme Court majority is forcing on us by once again doing fossil fuel executives’ bidding, even at the expense of judicial precedent, common sense, and our shared future.
“Air pollution is a lethal threat, which is why Congress passed a law giving the EPA the responsibility for reducing pollution. Fossil fuel companies may want to prioritize their profits ahead of kids’ health, farmers’ livelihoods, working families’ homes, and our national security—but it’s unconscionable for justices handpicked by the Federalist Society to go to extreme lengths to help them do it. It’s particularly egregious that the Court’s conservative majority would violate centuries of precedent by going out of its way to consider this case when there’s no pending EPA rule to even strike down. It’s a testament to how far they will bend the rules to serve the corporate interests who financed their dark money confirmation campaigns, and to how far they have dragged down the once-great institution of the Court.
“While climate chaos is an existential threat to our way of life, this decision is about even more. It’s the latest in a long line of dangerous decisions by an extremist Court to roll back fundamental protections for Americans. The Supreme Court is replacing government ‘of, by, and for the people,’ with ‘of, by and for the powerful.’ Today’s decision is an egregious giveaway to powerful corporations at the expense of the people, but we will not stop fighting to protect our health, our democracy and our future.”
Merkley – a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee – joined more than 190 Congressional Democrats in submitting an amicus brief to the Supreme Court that supported the EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act to protect the public from harmful pollution, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and address climate chaos.
Today, in response to the Supreme Court ruling in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality Director Richard Whitman has issued the following statement:
“Today’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court limiting EPA’s authority to regulate emissions from power plants does not directly affect the critically important work Oregon and the Department of Environmental Quality are doing to reduce carbon emissions in this state.
“DEQ, through the Climate Protection Program, the Clean Fuels Program, vehicle standards, electric vehicle incentives, landfill standards and other programs, remains fully on track and meeting our part of the climate challenge. These programs are based on authority granted by the Oregon legislature rather than by the U.S. Congress and as a result, are not affected by the West Virginia v. EPA decision. Furthermore, the Oregon legislature has acted to curtail carbon emissions from power plants that supply electricity to Oregonians, and this state program is also unaffected by today’s decision.
“In short, Oregon, along with other partner states, will continue to lead the nation in demonstrating how to combat climate change. What the court’s ruling does do, however, is create an uneven playing field across the country, with some states shouldering the weight of responsible climate actions and others not doing so. Addressing that inequity will ultimately require Congressional action to move the nation forward as a whole to meet our global responsibility for climate action.”