The Latest On: U.S. Supreme Court
The first Earth Day, 39 years ago today, was a godsend for a country mired in war and riven by racial, political and cultural issues. Arriving suddenly—as a gift whose time had come—it offered folks something to unite around: the idea of an entire planet, our home, in peril.
On February 17, Earthjustice called on Congress to introduce and pass legislation that would fix a glaring loophole punched in the Clean Water Act during the Bush years. The Supreme Court, with Bush administration backing, held that only "navigable" waterways could enjoy protections of this law.
Today, the Environmental Protection Agency took a giant step away from the path it was on under Bush by moving a step closer to finding that carbon dioxide from major global warming polluters threatens our health and well being.
The EPA proposal to the White House could result in national limits on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
One year ago in this column, I called on Environmental Protection Agency chief Stephen Johnson to resign for letting politics, not science, guide his agency's decisions. Nor was I alone—10,000 EPA employees were in open revolt for the same reason. Johnson was defying the Supreme Court's ruling that his agency should move forward on climate change and was refusing to approve California's forward-looking controls on climate-altering pollution.
The lungs of America got two big breaks this week with court rulings that protect them from air pollution emitted by power plants, factories, and diesel trucks.
And there is a strong hint of more to come.
The Clean Water Act, despite being one of our nation's most potent environmental protection laws for three decades, has an Achilles' heel—a one-word weakness that the U.S. Supreme Court has expanded into an enormous loophole.