The Supreme Court dealt a huge blow to the environment yesterday when it ruled against the EPA and "stripped the federal government of a crucial tool to control pollution." In a nutshell, the court curbed the EPA's ability to broadly regulate carbon emissions from existing power plants, a major defeat for the Biden administration's attempts to slash emissions at a moment when scientists are sounding alarms about the accelerating pace of global warming. The court also cut back the agency's authority by invoking the so-called "major questions" doctrine — a ruling that will impact the federal government's authority to regulate in other areas of climate policy, as well as regulation of the internet and worker safety. (source) In terms of precedents, it undermines the successes of the Clean Air Act. Senator Mitch McConnell said the decision limited the power of “unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats.” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the court’s conservative majority had decided to “let our planet burn.” (source)
From an environmental perspective, this decision is devastating and can make one feel pretty powerless. So many people already feel like their daily actions fail to compare to the magnitude that the government and corporations have over the environment and I can understand that perspective. But we need to keep going because what choice do we have? At minimum, these decisions show that elections have repercussions, sometimes for years afterwards. Donald Trump is no longer the president but his judicial appointees will continue to affect the future of this nation. Even if neither candidate fully excites you - I heard of people abstaining because "they're all the same" - look for the candidate whose environmental record is strong and someone who believes in climate change. Not the person who climate denies and/or favors other priorities.
Community activism is also incredibly important. Look for local groups in your area and join the movement. Concord Greenspace Coalition is a new group that is working hard to preserve natural, undeveloped space in Concord. Time is precious, especially if you're a working parent to smaller children, but there are also actions that you can take from home. Letters to the editor are one method. Here's an online workshop if you're looking to strengthen your skills.
In the meantime, I'll keep plugging along and tying to do what I can. My family is not perfect. We make way too much trash and I drive a (small) SUV. But something is better than nothing. Looking for somewhere to start? Hannah recently shared about Plastic Free July - the idea that you can reduce your packaging and make less trash. Going fully zero-waste is really hard, if not impossible, and may be prohibitively expensive for some. I get it. We are a family on a budget, as well. So make some choices. Buy the laundry detergent from Target (reuse the jug or try powder in a cardboard box?) but bulk-refill your hand soap and shampoo. Home delivery of staples can also cut down on the plastic - I get toilet paper and dish detergent shipped to my home and I compost the packaging. To combat that carbon footprint, I'm trying to buy less on Amazon, consolidate my purchases, look for it locally or do without. Run your appliances on express. Turn off your lights. Use your AC sparingly. These habits don't change overnight but I do think they're worth practicing. We are all in this together.
PS Have you heard of the app called "Too Good to Go"? Their mission is to prevent extra food from hitting the landfill, which is a huge climate change contributor. Every year, one-third of food is thrown away. Too Good To Go is trying to change that. Use the app to rescue Surprise Bags filled with delicious, unsold food from businesses near you. The app isn't connected with locations in New Hampshire yet, but they are down in Boston. Might also be good option for when you're traveling and looking to save some money on food.
PPS Cover photo borrowed from the New York Times