Speed Reads

running out of options

By limiting EPA's power, the Supreme Court hit Biden with another climate blow

The Supreme Court's decision on Thursday to curb the Environmental Protection Agency's ability to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants is the latest blow to President Biden's climate agenda.

At the start of his presidency, Biden said he would cut greenhouse gas emissions in the United States in half by the end of the decade, but the tools he needs to make his climate plan work are being stripped away. "At this point, I don't see any way to hit the kind of targets they laid out," David G. Victor, an expert in climate policy at the University of California, San Diego, told The New York Times.

Biden's climate plan called for legislation to replace coal and gas-fired power plants with solar, wind, and nuclear energy, but that was cut due to opposition from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who has financial ties to the coal industry. Biden also tasked the EPA with determining new, stricter limits on tailpipe emissions, but several Republican attorneys general are fighting these rules in lower courts.

"The judicial branch and the legislative branch are seriously hindering Joe Biden's ability to get the job done on climate," Richard Lazarus, a professor of environmental law at Harvard and member of Biden's EPA transition team, told the Times. "A lot of the optimism that everyone had a year ago is being replaced by pessimism. They're running out of options right now."

Biden on Thursday said the Supreme Court's conservative majority is siding with "special interests that have waged a long-term campaign to strip away our right to breathe clean air," and wildfires, droughts, intense storms, and extreme heat linked to climate change are "endangering our lives and livelihoods. I will take action. My administration will continue using lawful executive authority, including the EPA's legally-upheld authorities, to keep our air clean, protect public health, and tackle the climate crisis."