On February 24, the Supreme Court began to evaluate the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s executive approach to pass greenhouse gas emission regulations with the help of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).In the 2007 Supreme Court decision of Massachusetts v. EPA, the Court had ruled that the EPA had permission to regulate air pollution under the Clean Air Act. The EPA then released several standards on emissions, including one stating that stationary sources of pollution must acquire construction and operation permits from the EPA. The Utility Air Regulatory Group challenged the EPA on the basis that its standards arbitrarily interpret the Clean Air Act because the act is not supported by enough scientific findings.
The justices will determine whether the EPA and the president or the Utility Air Regulatory Air Group is correct. Conservative justices will likely be skeptical like their Republican counterparts in Congress, and liberal justices have shown support for Obama’s climate change agenda in the past. Therefore, Justice Anthony Kennedy will likely be the deciding vote on the nine-member court.
According to Reuters, the ruling is unlikely to have a significant effect on the Obama administration’s climate change agenda since the president has been regulating emissions under the Clean Air Act since 2010. Additionally, Reuters stated that Obama also seeks to introduce new greenhouse gas regulations under a separate part of the Clean Air Act; however, this time the provisions are for new power plants. The provisions have not been formally issued even though they were announced by the president last September.
While the nation examines the EPA’s regulations, Southern California is also creating plans to alleviate the current drought- the longest the state has suffered on record. On February 27, the California state legislature passed a $687 million plan to provide relief for communities suffering from the current drought. Both the State Assembly and Senate approved the measure, formally addressed in SB103 and SB104, and will now send the legislation to Governor Jerry Brown. If approved, the relief plan will immediately reallocate water to communities that need it the most, and the state will start encouraging the public to conserve water. Kevin Li (Jr.) said, “If the drought got extremely severe, we’d probably have to save water in small ways like taking shorter showers and minimizing how often we use our sprinklers.”
According to the National Broadcasting Company, the plan will use money in the state budget and two voter-approved bonds to allocate money to areas with low drinking water supplies and farming communities with low crop-yield and high unemployment rates. It set aside around $475 million to accelerate funding for conservation and recycling and $47 million for food and housing assistance in affected communities. In addition, it donated $15 million for communities with low drinking water. In addition, the plan increases financial penalties for groups or individuals who illegally divert water for private usage.
Written by CHRISTINE SMET