The recent Supreme Court ruling, made in late June, takes away the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) ability to reduce carbon emissions, which would increase climate risks and greatly damage South Carolina's environment.
The EPA's main goal is to protect human health and the environment. Some of the ways they do that is by developing and enforcing regulations and studying environmental issues. Until recently, one of their responsibilities included regulating emissions from power plants.
In a 6-3 vote, the court decided that the EPA doesn't have that authority and that the decision will be left up to Congress.
Power plants make up 30% of carbon emissions so by placing the power of limiting carbon emissions to Congress rather than an expert agency, we could possibly see more carbon emissions than before. This could result in an increase in the effects of climate change in many states, including South Carolina.
“It’s hard to say," David Fuente, an assistant professor in the Department of Earth, Ocean and Environment at USC, said. "With the EPA's ability to regulate carbon, hamstrung to some extent, is gonna make it much tougher for the U.S. to play a leading global role at reducing global emissions to levels where they need to be to avoid the worst of climate change. So in South Carolina, I think we are going to see direct effects that are climate-related."
With the increase in carbon emissions, we can potentially see an exacerbation of climate risks in South Carolina, such as hurricanes and flooding.
"But I think South Carolina seizes many climate risks. So we have the threat of hurricanes that are becoming more frequent and intense with climate change," Fuente said.
However, with the recent EPA ruling, the justices of the Supreme Court have not only created problems for the environment, but other matters as well.
"It's judges who get to decide whether something is big or not," Nathan Richardson, a professor of law at USC's School of Law said. "There is all kinds of other rule-making, not just on climate, not just on the environment, but everything, food safety, health safety, air. All the many parts of the economy that the federal government touches, and at least tries to make a safer and more economically productive place for everyone, are at risk for being overruled."
The EPA is meant to tackle specific issues by putting knowledgeable experts in charge of creating rules and regulations, but the recent Supreme Court ruling could set a precedent for Congress to interfere with other agencies' authority, such as the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Commerce. They would then be able to dismantle the rules and regulations set up by these organizations as well.
The justices and the members of Congress do not have the expertise to handle these specific problems and make effective legislation. The impact of climate change needs immediate attention, and if we were to limit such efforts, we would only be increasing the damage of climate change.
One way we can help avoid this scenario is by voting for legislators who are willing to do research and make meaningful changes.
“We need to be voting for people who have vowed to fight climate change," Meredith Love, the president of the graduation organization of the Ocean, Earth and Environment, said. "(People) who want to be in Congress to actually make steps in legislation that impact our climate for better to that regulate big oil and regulate coal mining and push for renewable energy sources.”
If we vote for legislators who are willing to put in the work to provide meaningful rules and regulations to help reduce or combat climate change, we would be able to help curb excessive damage to our environment.
As residents of South Carolina, we should acknowledge the threat of climate change and fight for legislation that can help combat it so that we and future South Carolinians can live in a safe environment.
With the Supreme Court taking away the EPA's ability to regulate carbon emissions, we are left off with worse way of regulating emissions . Because of this, we should acknowledge the threat of climate change and fight for legislation that can help combat it so that we and future South Carolinians can live in a safe environment.
Even though this may help the fight against climate change, the EPA has a better system of putting regulations in place to help preserve the environment. They have more expertise when it comes to environmental rules and the supreme court ruling will ultimately limit the country's ability to save the environment.