The U.S. Supreme Court’s surprising decision this week to block the Obama administration’s attempt to regulate emissions from coal-fired electricity plants demonstrates another important reason why a Democrat should be elected president.
Though the 5-4 vote was only a stay of the Obama action, its many industry and state government opponents are gearing up for a challenge to an appeals court’s decision not to issue a stay. Regardless of whether a stay is issued, the appeals court eventually will decide on the regulation. That outcome likely will again reach the Supreme Court, and predictions are that it doesn’t look good for environmentalists.
Paris agreement threatened
Following news of the Supreme Court’s decision, fears emerged that the recent global climate agreement in Paris could be in jeopardy.
“If the American clean energy plan is overturned, we’ll need to reassess whether the United States can meet its commitments,” said Zou Ji, a Chinese government climate official. And if it can’t, “that could be a blow to confidence in low-carbon development.”
Conservative Republicans’ position on climate change is clear: They mostly deny it’s man-made, despite insistence by an overwhelming majority of the world’s climate scientists that it is. This denial of science shows how conservatives in the U.S., who talk of the need to “take our country back,” are in fact doing the opposite – taking our country backward. We are embarrassing ourselves in the court of world opinion. European and other advanced nations wonder what the heck is going on here. And if Donald Trump or any of the other Republican candidates is elected president, bye-bye planet Earth. Even the most reasonable of the bunch, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, denies man-made climate change.
Do they really disbelieve science? That’s highly doubtful. These people are intelligent. They’re just pandering to the wealthy individuals and corporations that, objecting to the cost of environmental regulations, put and keep Republicans in office due to our election laws. The Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in the Citizens United case allows unfettered individual and corporate contributions.
Whither the court?
Four of the court’s justices are around 80 years old and getting close to retirement. Ruth Bader-Ginzburg and Stephen Breyer generally take liberal positions, while Anthony Scalia’s votes are virtually always far to the right. Anthony Kennedy is the so-called swing vote. The future direction of the country is largely dependent on the ideological persuasions of their replacements. Of the two Democratic candidates, Bernie Sanders has a record of favoring the interests of the middle and lower classes over those of the wealthy and privileged to a greater extent than does Hillary Clinton. She has made herself beholden to the Wall Street elite by accepting enormous speaking fees from them.
Twenty-nine states, along with dozens of corporations and industry groups, are challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s requirement, issued last summer, that states make major cuts to greenhouse gas pollution created by electric power plants. This would especially impact coal-producing states. The Obama administration wants to switch to non-fossil-fuel energy sources such as wind and solar power. Eighteen states, most of them led by Democrats, opposed the request for a stay of the requirement.
SCOTUS defies precedent
U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli called the requests for a stay “extraordinary and unprecedented.” The Supreme Court, he said, never has “granted a stay of a generally applicable regulation pending initial judicial review in the court of appeals.”
Meanwhile, major world climatologists warn that the point will be reached in the relatively near future where, if warming is not significantly slowed, portions of the earth will become uninhabitable, and migrations of people from those lands will result in global conflicts.
The future of the planet depends heavily on how Americans vote in November.
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