Supreme Court decision bodes well for climate

by John Schwartz, The New York Times


  • A new ruling in the Supreme Court on a major piece of LGBTQ+ civil rights legislation may pave the way for environmentalists to use the Clean Air Act as a means to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
  • Supreme Court case, Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, resulted in protections for gay and transgender people from discrimination at work
  • Justice Neil M. Gorsuch ruled that gay and transgender people were included in the definition of “sex” within Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars workplace discrimination because of sex and other factors
  • Ann E. Carlson, climate change law expert at UCLA, says that this new ruling may be cited in order to help persuade the court that GHG regulation is within the text of the Clean Air Act
  • According to a few Supreme Court justices, the Environmental Protection Agency lacks the power to regulate GHG’s because the Clean Air Act doesn’t specifically address climate change

Endorsing The Climate Center’s Climate-Safe California platform will help ensure that state policy timelines are accelerated while securing an equitable and just transition to a clean energy future.

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Environmental groups sue EPA over ‘reckless’ response to coronavirus


The National Resources Defence Council (NRDC) is suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on behalf of a dozen environmental groups.

  • Environmental groups across the country petitioned the EPA to publish an emergency rule that requires polluters to submit a public notice that they are taking advantage of newly relaxed emissions and pollutions standards
    • This petition comes days after the EPA relaxed pollution standards at the request of an oil industry trade group claiming it was necessary to loosen regulations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • These relaxed pollution standards will affect drinking water and air quality which directly impacts public health, especially in fence-line communities that border refineries and factories
    • Even with previous environmental regulations, these communities are still greatly impacted by emissions
    • A study focused on health hazards in vulnerable communities found that nearly 12,500 high-risk chemical facilities across the country place 39% of the U.S. population (124 million people) in constant risk of a chemical disaster, disproportionately affecting communities of color 
  • Juan Parras, founder and executive director of Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (t.e.j.a.s.), says relaxing these regulations is a direct violation of the EPA’s main objective:

“The EPA, in allowing this to happen, is basically going against its very core value, which is to protect health and human safety [against] industrial pollution,” 

Fossil fuel divestment and the transition to 100% clean electricity is critical to achieving The Climate Center’s goals under the Climate-Safe California Platform.

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Trump’s move to suspend enforcement of environmental laws is a lifeline to the oil industry

By Marianne Levelle, Inside Climate News


The Trump administration suspended U.S. environmental laws due to calls for help from the American Petroleum Institute. The suspension of the rules will ultimately lead to more pollution, making more people in frontline communities susceptible to health risks, including COVID-19. 

  • The Environmental Protection Agency announced a policy that suspended enforcement and civil penalties for regulated entities that can prove the ongoing pandemic caused failure to comply with the law, allowing the oil industry to violate air and water pollution regulations at refineries
  • Gina McCarthy of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) calls the policy “an open license to pollute.” 
  • The industry sought out federal help after oil prices crashed due to Saudi  Arabia’s increase in oil production which impacted Russian and U.S. oil markets
  • Some members of Congress and oil executives wanted help in the form of direct financial support or trade halts with Saudi Arabia
  • The suspension of environmental laws will cause more pollution in communities surrounding refineries, making people more vulnerable to the respiratory effects of COVID-19

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must re-examine the ways in which we move around. The Climate Center is committed to working with state and local lawmakers to put us on track for a Climate-Safe California, which will include climate-safe transportation.

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