The US Supreme Court yesterday imposed limits on the federal government’s authority to reduce carbon emissions from power plants in a ruling that undermines President Joe Biden’s plans to tackle climate change .
The court’s 6-3 ruling constrained the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from existing coal- and gas-fired power plants under the landmark Clean Air Act anti-pollution law. Mr Biden’s administration is currently working on new regulations.
The court’s six conservatives were in the majority in the decision authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, with the three liberals dissenting.
Mr Biden called the ruling “another devastating decision that aims to take our country backwards”.
“While this decision risks damaging our nation’s ability to keep our air clean and combat climate change, I will not relent in using my lawful authorities to protect public health and tackle the climate crisis,” Mr Biden said in a statement.
The Democratic president said he directed his legal team to work with the Justice Department and affected agencies to review the ruling and find ways under federal law to protect against pollution including emissions that cause climate change.
Earlier yesterday, Mr Biden proposed that US senators remove a legislative roadblock to restoring abortion rights that were taken away by the Supreme Court last week, a suggestion that was shot down by aides to key Democratic politicians.
Mr Biden’s proposal to temporarily lift the Senate “filibuster” was rejected by aides to Democratic senators Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin.
Mr Biden told a news conference at a Nato conference in Madrid that “we have to” pass laws making abortion a right in all 50 US states.
“If the filibuster gets in the way – it’s like voting rights – it should be we provide an exception for this,” said Mr Biden, a Democrat.
Without sufficient votes in Congress to suspend the legislative filibuster, Mr Biden’s statement is more of a gesture than a policy plan.
A spokesman for Mr Manchin and an aide to Ms Sinema, who both have opposed suspending the filibuster in the past, told Reuters yesterday that their respective positions had not changed.
Mr Biden would very likely need their votes for Congress to sidestep the filibuster and pass a law to protect the federal right to abortion.
White House officials did not immediately offer any more details on what the president’s strategy would be, or who in the administration would make it a reality.
Mr Biden’s new stance, coupled with the announcement of a White House meeting today with state governors on abortion rights, came after sharp criticism from his own party over his response to the Supreme Court ruling overturning US women’s right to obtain abortions.
“There has been pressure building up to act and show that we are doing more,” said an administration source, who spoke on condition of
anonymity. “The president has always believed something must be done.”
The hot-button issue is seen as a potent political force ahead of the November 8 midterm elections