Yesterday can be considered a victory for the Environmental Protection Agency and environmentalists in the US. After many battles and concerns over the regulatory powers of the EPA, the Supreme Court ruled that the EPA does have the right to control greenhouse gas emissions. This ruling is important because it allows for the EPA to keep its teeth in its ability to regulate and impose fines, mostly on power plants and factories, which are responsibly for 86% of greenhouse gas emissions.
In a country where legislation has been slow and in some cases non-existent, with the nearly inevitable approval of the Keystone pipeline, it is refreshing to see some changes in the direction of environmental protection. This is particularly encouraging because it represents active government regulation over massive carbon pollution, which may have a large effect on America’s overall footprint.
It is important for regulatory agencies such as the EPA to keep their punitive power. Although it would be preferable for companies to make changes now for long-term economic and environmental benefits, it is easy for the short term financial gains and cutting corners to take precedence. Similar to the United Nations, if the EPA were only armed with warnings, mandates, and toothless policies, we would not expect the US to take much notice. The Supreme Court has made a powerful statements for environmental protection and towards national recognition of the harm of carbon emissions and the value of the environment over businesses.