The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Jason Rylander,

Biden Climate Leadership Needed in Wake of Supreme Court Argument

New UN Climate Report Warns of ‘Rapidly Closing Window’ for Climate Action


The Supreme Court heard oral argument today in West Virginia v. EPA, a case that could shape the contours of the Environmental Protection Agency's ability to regulate power plant emissions under the Clean Air Act. The Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental respondent in the case, urged the court to either uphold the EPA's authority to set appropriate standards for coal and gas fired power plants or dismiss the case for lack of appellate standing.

The hearing came just hours after scientists and officials with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued their most dire assessment yet of the sweeping harms from the climate crisis in the panel's first report since November's COP26 summit.

"It was grotesque to hear Big Coal's lawyers argue for tying EPA's hands on cutting climate-heating pollution, even as the world's scientists warn of a bigger, worsening swath of human suffering," said Jason Rylander, an attorney at the Center's Climate Law Institute. "No matter how the Supreme Court rules in this case, President Biden still has broad authority under an array of existing laws to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, restrict development of fossil fuels and accelerate a just, clean-energy transition. We're out of time and the president must act boldly now."

"The court proceedings showed clearly that those opposing climate regulation are wrong at every step of the analysis," said Rylander. "If the far-right majority on the Supreme Court were to nonetheless block the EPA from addressing deadly greenhouse gas pollution, then Biden must lead the way on court reform to halt this power grab."

The Center released a report last week outlining numerous additional powers that President Biden could unlock to fight the climate crisis by declaring a national climate emergency. Using authorities under the National Emergencies Act, the Defense Production Act and the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, the president could halt crude oil exports, stop offshore oil and gas drilling, restrict international fossil fuel investment and rapidly manufacture and distribute renewable energy systems.

In addition to emergency powers, the Center's Climate President Action Plan outlines the president's broad authority for climate action under normal executive powers.

At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive.

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