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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Environmental justice advocates condemn Supreme Court’s decision

by Drew Costley

Advocates say the Supreme Court’s decision to limit how the Environmental Protection Agency controls carbon dioxide emissions from power plants could worsen an already dire situation for those hardest hit by climate change and air pollution .

Environmental and climate justice advocates across the United States condemned the court’s 6-3 decision, saying it would be most felt by communities of color and poorer communities, who are located near power plants at a higher percentage than the national average. . They are calling on the EPA to find alternative ways to limit carbon dioxide emissions and other forms of air pollution, and for Congress to give the agency the authority to do so.

The court did not ban the EPA from regulating carbon emissions, in fact Chief Justice John Roberts said that limiting carbon emissions “could be prudent for the crisis of the day” to dissuade America from burning coal for electricity. Is.”

Despite this, advocates said the ruling puts disadvantaged communities at risk of greater harm due to the effects of climate change and air pollution. They are also concerned about the EPA’s ability to enforce other basic environmental laws, such as the Clean Water Act.

Monique Harden, assistant director of law and policy at the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, said: “The Supreme Court’s decision denied relief to black and other communities, as well as poor communities most vulnerable to power plant pollution and climate change. done.” The Associated Press.

Harden’s organization has conducted extensive research into the effects of heavy industry on people living along the Mississippi River Chemical Corridor – also known to some as Cancer Alley – a section of petrochemical plants and oil refineries.

That corridor touches New Orleans and Baton Rouge, two cities that have experienced intense hurricanes and hurricanes over the past 20 years from climate change. And there is a power plant near Baton Rouge, Big Cajun II, which consists of two coal-fired units owned by Clayco Power.

The Supreme Court’s decision thousands of miles west was as alarming as it was for Darryl Molina Sarmiento, executive director of Communities for a Better Environment. She said the ruling is part of a decades-long effort by the fossil fuel industry to strip the EPA of its ability to protect vulnerable communities, including those living along power plants.

“Since the entire Western grid is connected, a polluting power plant in Southeast LA could supply electricity to wealthy white communities in Utah.” The same is true when California imports electricity from coal-fired power plants in Arizona and the low-income communities of color that surround them are polluted, she said.

In a press briefing with the Green New Deal Network, a nationwide coalition of environmental organizations, US Representative Jamal Bowman expressed concern that the decision could set a precedent that would limit regulatory agencies in their ability to protect human health.

“This decision could potentially undermine all kinds of rules that are about saving lives and promoting well-being,” he said. “We can’t, we shouldn’t and we won’t let this court stop us. The Biden administration must immediately declare a climate emergency and use every single power at its disposal.”

Although carbon dioxide is not a health hazard, many other pollutants that are harmful to the respiratory system, such as particulate matter and nitrogen oxides, are commonly emitted with them. Recent research has shown that people of color do not proportion this type of air pollution.

“It is our responsibility to respond at this time because we cannot allow those most vulnerable to pay this price,” said Sen. Ed Markey, who was also on the call. “It is up to those of us who have been given some strength to join this fight, to stand shoulder to shoulder with him.”

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Follow Drew Costley on Twitter: @drewcostley,

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The Associated Press Department of Health and Science receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. Associated Press is solely responsible for all content.

Associated Press climate and environmental coverage is supported by a number of private foundations. See more about Associated Press’s climate initiative here. Associated Press is solely responsible for all content.

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