Today, the United States Supreme Court released its decision in West Virginia v. EPA. This case challenged the agency’s authority to regulate planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions from power plants under the Clean Air Act.
While this decision narrows the federal government’s authority under the Clean Air Act, it leaves room for EPA to act on its duty to tackle carbon emissions from power plants.
Climate change is causing more intense storms that increase pollution in the Chesapeake Bay, harm the region’s economy, and threaten the quality of life of the 18 million people who live, work, and play in the watershed.
More frequent and intense storms result in more polluted runoff that enlarges underwater dead zones, harms the fish and grasses essential to Bay life, and makes clean-up efforts even more difficult. Rapidly rising sea levels also worsen flooding that damages homes and overwhelms the roads residents rely on to get to work or run their daily errands.
Communities of color and low-income communities around the region have historically been forced to live in less-desirable areas that are often low lying and devoid of trees. As a result, they are often hit the hardest by the rising temperatures and extreme weather brought on by climate change.
The Bay jurisdictions have developed and are implementing a science-based plan to restore the Bay called the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. While progress has been made, there is still a long way to go. Climate change only makes that hill steeper. Without meaningful reductions in greenhouse gasses, the entire Bay restoration effort is in jeopardy.
Following the release of the decision, Chesapeake Bay Foundation Federal Executive Denise Stranko issued this statement:
“The Chesapeake Bay Foundation urges EPA to issue a new rule to cut carbon emissions as soon as possible.
“Reducing emissions from coal-fired power plants is essential to restoring the Bay and its rivers and streams. Measures that curb greenhouse gasses from power plants also reduce nitrogen pollution. Approximately one-third of the nitrogen pollution damaging the Bay comes from the air.
“Quick action by EPA is also vital to strengthening our region’s resiliency to climate change, which poses an existential threat to homes, livelihoods, and the living resources that depend on clean air and water.”
“We must ensure this national treasure and vital economic engine is around for future generations.”