WE ACT for Environmental Justice’s Peggy Shepard Shares Profound Concern Over Recent SCOTUS Trend and Calls for United Action

July 3, 2024
Contact: Jama Joseph, (646) 951-1648, jamajoseph.weact@gmail.com

WASHINGTON – Over the last week, the decisions by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) have caused devastating impacts, including undermining the ability of federal agencies to safeguard public health and the environment. The rulings have put a halt to important measures such as the Good Neighbor Rule, designed to address air pollution that travels across state lines, and overturned the Chevron deference, which previously allowed expert agencies to effectively implement key environmental laws. 

WE ACT for Environmental Justice Co-founder and Executive Director Peggy Shepard responded:

“These short-sighted, dangerous rulings will destroy decades of precedent and progress. Staffed with subject matter experts, many of which have decades of experience in their field, federal agencies are uniquely suited to develop and enforce regulations, not judges. The decisions to remove the essential ability of federal agencies to carry out their fundamental task of issuing regulations based on science, public health, and community needs when implementing laws will create a public health crisis, particularly in communities of color and low-income which have historically been disproportionately burdened by environmental hazards. To appease corporate interests and an increasingly extreme political agenda, these decisions will sacrifice the health and well-being of disadvantaged communities as well as rob them of their legal rights to be protected from environmental harms.

The implications of these decisions also mean we will have to increasingly rely on state laws to regulate pollution and protect public health. This represents a significant federal setback at a crucial time when agency-led policies – informed by community input and data – are urgently needed to safeguard environmental justice communities. However, it also represents an important opportunity for state-led legislation to move forward and prevent further damage.

We encourage unified action to challenge these decisions. We would also like to stress the importance of advocating for term limits and reforming the judicial nomination and confirmation processes. Moreover, we urge the Biden administration and federal agencies to use their power to challenge these decisions.

I call on leaders from across the environmental justice and broader environmental movement, and all advocates who believe in justice and our right to clean air, water, and land, to speak out. The Supreme Court and other federal courts cannot undermine our system of checks and balances with such decisions, which work against the best interest of the people.”

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