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Volume XII, Number 231

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Yesterday the Supreme Court confirmed we can have exactly the environmental future we want to have!

Much has already been written about the Supreme Court's decision yesterday to tie EPA's hands in its effort to mitigate the GHG fueled climate catastrophe we face.  As we prepare to celebrate the birth of our nation, I'd like to emphasize two positive aspects of the Supreme Court's retreat from decades of deference to EPA's interpretation of the environmental protection statutes it is charged with implementing.

First, the Conservative majority expressed no concerns whatsoever about the constitutionality of what it called the "sensible solution" EPA had proposed.  This is a significant difference from the Court's troubling decision the week before in which it held the Constitution limits the Government's ability to restrict the carrying of handguns in public.

Second, the Court told us exactly what we need to do if we want a meaningful Federal response to the climate crisis.  We need our Congress to act.  That's something we all can do something about.  The fact is that our Congress hasn't been doing its job for quite some time.  Its dereliction of its duty regarding the updating of the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act are just two examples of that.  But it can change, or we can change it.

This isn't the first time one of the co-equal branches of our Federal Government has stood in the way of the environmental protection plans of other branches of the Government.  Fifty years ago this October, Republicans and Democrats in Congress joined together in overriding President Nixon's veto of what is now known as the Clean Water Act.  I commend to your attention Waterkeeper's brief history of that watershed moment in the early days of United States environmental law.

Since the last reauthorization of the Clean Air Act in the mid 1990s, Congress has mostly left environmental protection to the Executive and Judicial Branches.  That era ended yesterday.  Yes, legislation requires compromise so we all have a say in what happens next.

Happy 4th of July!

Only two hours after the president vetoed the Act, the Senate voted 52-12 to override, with 17 of the votes in favor coming from Republicans.

The House followed, voting 247 to 23 to override — more than ten to one — with 96 of the yes votes from Republicans.

©1994-2022 Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C. All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 182
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About this Author

Jeffrey R. Porter, Environmental Attorney, Mintz Levin, Risk Analysis Lawyer
Member

Jeff leads the firm’s Environmental Law Practice. He is also a member of the firm’s Policy Committee. For 23 years, he has advised clients regarding complex environmental regulatory compliance and permitting issues, including issues relating to air and water discharges and hazardous waste storage and disposal. In 2011 and 2012, the firm received the Acquisition International Legal Award for “US Environmental Law Firm of the Year.” The awards celebrate excellence and reward firms, teams and individuals for their contribution to client service, innovation and commitment to quality.

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617-348-1711
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