Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a leading conservative on the Supreme Court, died over the weekend; he was 79. Scalia's death opens up a huge legal vacuum, which could suck up President Obama's Clean Power Plan (CPP) like a black hole.
Anthony's written a longer piece with tons of links and references in the blog,* but here's the upshot: Scalia's death opens up the possibility of a 4-4 split in our highest court, which could threaten the CPP and break the promise we made in Paris to take action on climate change. Worse, the Senate may refuse to consider Scalia's replacement before President Obama leaves office -- making this a sort of semi-permanent paralysis at exactly the moment we need bold action on climate change.
That makes action at the state level to comply with the CPP and reduce global warming the only clear path forward. But we don't just need action in the biggest and most progressive states -- we need it from the conservative Governors and Attorneys General leading the legal insurrection against climate action.
So in addition to Anthony's article, I'm forwarding you my email from last week asking for your help to continue our fight for climate action in those states. Don't let last week's jarring SCOTUS news "slam the brakes" on the first-in-the-nation rules to cap global warming pollution from power plants. Click here to chip in $5 or more to #ActOnClimate no matter what the Senate, President and courts may do.
* Anthony Rogers-Wright, Scalia’s Passing Opens National Can of Worms, Environmental Action Blog, February 15, 2016
First, let's start with the bad news: Last night the Supreme Court made an unprecedented decision to temporarily halt EPA's rule limiting global warming pollution from power plants.1 President Obama is playing it cool (like always) but this is a big blow to his plan to take serious action on climate change and live up to the promises made in Paris.2
The simple truth is that this is a very bad deal for our planet. And it comes at a terrible time: in many of the states where back-wards Attorney's General, Governors and Senators were fighting to undermine climate action, we were actually forming alliances with utility companies and other businesses to move forward on Clean power Plan implementation.3 The simple reason is that, in the wake of the Paris climate deal, rock-bottom fossil fuel prices, and expanding access to solar and wind power -- more and more businesses realize acting on climate isn't just morally right, it's a smart business move too.
The Supreme Court decision is throwing all the progress of the last few months into doubt. I know lots of groups are asking you for money in response, but you know that only Environmental Action has been calling out the governors and state officials regardless of where they live.4 Can you chip in $5 or more now so we can take our campaign for clean power to the states that need us the most, and are most likely to be overlooked by the other Big Green groups - including Kentucky, South Carolina and Louisiana?
Here's what people are saying about the SCOTUS decision today:3
- "There's no question this undermines U.S. leadership on climate change in the international arena," said Jody Freeman, a former Obama administration climate adviser who is now a professor at Harvard University.
- The decision has many states slamming the brakes on plans to shift away from coal power. "The whole point of the stay was to stop us having to provide any implementation plan, and so we're not moving forward with anything until this case is resolved," Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton told reporters today.
- The White House insisted the U.S. can still hit its Paris targets . Calling the ruling a "temporary procedural determination," White House spokesman Eric Schultz said, "The schedule for this litigation looks like it will be concluded well in time for the U.S. to make its commitments in the Paris agreement."
But we can't wait for President Obama to convince everyone, especially since he's got less than a year left to serve in office. If we want action to protect our climate and common home, we need to get down into the states where this battle is being fought hardest, right now, and fight for our planet. That means going back to Louisiana, where we've already take out billboards challenging Bobby Jindall and run massive actions in the streets of Louisiana. It means ramping up our plans in South Carolina and heading back to Kentucky where we once were banned from running a bus ad that contrasted Mitch McConnell's head in the sand approach with local utilities already planning to comply with the Clean Power Plan.
All that work needs to happen, and it needs to happen fast -- before the climate deniers and defeatists elected to 'represent' people in the South East can roll back action on climate change that will save thousands of lives and re-shape our economy in a way that benefits people and the planet. Click here to chip in $5, $50 or whatever you can to help us keep up the fight for clean power in the Southeast.
Thanks for all you do,
Drew and the Southeast Clean Power Crew at Environmental Action
1 - ADAM LIPTAK and CORAL DAVENPORT, Supreme Court Deals Blow to Obama’s Efforts to Regulate Coal Emissions, The new York Times, Feb. 9, 2016
2 - Cole Mellino, Supreme Court Deals Blow to EPA’s Clean Power Plan, Obama Vows to Fight, EcoWatch, Feb. 10, 2016
3 - Andrew Restuccia and Alex Guillén, Fallout from climate ruling lands quickly, Politico, Feb. 10, 2016
4 - Seditious 6: Don't Defy Obama's Clean Power Plan, Environmental Action