Today’s decision creates a fallout of implications for public lands and ecosystems that will be felt for generations.
Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. Supreme Court voted to restrict the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, dismantling a key Clean Air Act provision that curtailed the agency’s capacity to select the best system for addressing greenhouse gases from the power sector. West Virginia v. EPA, limited the EPA’s authority to regulate carbon emissions and further complicated an already dire climate crisis in our national parks.
Climate change, accelerated by the burning of fossil fuels, is the biggest threat to national parks, which are warmed at more than twice the national average and are devastated by climate impacts such rising sea levels, increased fires, extreme weather events, droughts, receding glaciers and damage to wildlife habitats. Today’s decision will increase those weather events, destroy ecosystems, elevate heat-related deaths and put gateway communities – particularly communities of color – at higher risk.
In January, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in this case. The brief opposed a tenuous legal argument, introduced by fossil fuel companies and political allies in response to the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, that challenged the extent of the EPA’s authority. NPCA’s brief outlined the current and projected harms of climate change across national parks from Everglades to Yosemite and called upon the obligation and power Congress bestowed upon the EPA to make rules that protect public lands and their resources.
Statement from Stephanie Kodish, Senior Director and Counsel for National Parks Conservation Association’s (NPCA) Clean Air and Climate Programs:
“Today’s SCOTUS decision hacked away at EPA’s statutorily delegated authority to regulate the pollution that is increasing the climate crisis in our national parks and harming public health, particularly in communities of color. This ruling will make our ability to protect these communities and our public lands, wildlife, water and iconic landscapes more challenging during a time of global environmental peril.
“We cannot wait a second longer for decisive, consequential climate solutions for people, public lands and the welfare of our planet. The demand for immediate climate action that mitigates a cataclysmic fate now lies squarely at the feet of every member of Congress who must act swiftly and pass a comprehensive climate bill that does what no other arm of government can: set us on course for a livable future mounted on clean energy.”
About the National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its nearly 1.6 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.
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