One day after the United States Supreme Court limit the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions as pollutants, New Jersey’s environmental and political leaders warned the ruling would accelerate climate change and threaten a century of environmental progress.
About 20 environmentalists rallied outside the Clarkson S. Fisher federal courthouse in Trenton on Friday to call on Congress to do more to protect the climate and clean energy.
“Yesterday the court ruled that the government lacks the power to protect the very air we breathe,” said Allison McLeod, director of public policy at the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters. “The challenges of climate change are there. It’s not a future problem. It’s a problem right now. And every day that we fail to act, climate change becomes more costly, more dangerous and more deadly.
Thursday’s ruling caps off an astonishing few weeks of rulings that overturned Abortion straight, reinforced gun law, and eroded the separation of church and state.
In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy responded to the ruling by pledging to step up the state’s efforts to fight climate change and reiterating his goal of making the state’s economy entirely dependent on climate change. clean energy by 2050.
“Throughout the past week, the far-right Supreme Court majority has been very clear: Governments can control women’s bodies, but not the guns that endanger our communities or the polluters that jeopardize the future of our planet,” Murphy said in a statement. . “In the wake of yet another tragic decision, we will continue to do everything in our power to fight the climate crisis and safeguard New Jersey’s environmental and public health.”
In the latest case, the court’s conservative majority ruled that Congress only empowers the EPA to tightly regulate emissions from individual power plants, not create industry-wide caps on emissions. coal and gas.
Critics have warned that the decision paves the way for the court to further limit the regulatory power of other agencies.
“Make no mistake, with this devastating decision in West Virginia v. EPA, the court’s conservative majority continues to set our country back, and more ominously, it opens the door to profound implications for how other federal agencies typically create regulations. to implement existing legislation going forward,” U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, a Democrat, said in a statement.
Environmentalists who gathered in Trenton on Friday also said they fear a case the court has not yet ruled on the possibility of endangering the country’s waterways. This case, which concerns the scope of protected wetlands under the Clean Water Act, could prompt the court to significantly narrow the definition of federally protected waters.
“We’re waiting to see how this might impact clean water,” said Eileen Murphy, vice president of government relations with New Jersey Audubon. “The regulations work. We have known for decades, when there was none, how dirty our air and water was. Regulations were put in place, and now we enjoy relatively clean air and water. »
New Jersey environmentalists have accused the Murphy administration of not doing enough in the fight against greenhouse gas emissions.
In January they for follow-up the Murphy administration for not doing enough to reduce emissions, and in February they urged the State Department of Environmental Protection to strengthen its regulations on power plant emissions. This proposed rule has yet to be adopted.
Thursday’s decision complicates matters, said Anjuli Ramos of the Sierra Club of New Jersey.
“To really tackle climate change holistically, you need federal, state and local action,” Ramos said. “Bringing it to the federal level just creates a lot of complications and confusion for the regulatory community.”
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