Supreme Court ruling raises major concerns for clean water

June 30, 2022

June 30, 2022 

Contact: Amy Souers Kober, 503-708-1145 

Today’s Supreme Court ruling in West Virginia v. EPA is a major blow to efforts to fight climate change. The ruling constrains EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions – a major contributor to climate change — from the power sector.  

As Justice Kagan, joined by Justice Breyer and Justice Sotomayor state in the dissenting opinion,  

“Today, the Court strips the Environmental Protection Agency of the power Congress gave it to respond to ‘the most pressing environmental challenge of our time’ …. The Court appoints itself – instead of Congress or the expert agency – the decision-maker on climate policy. I cannot think of many things more frightening.” 

Tom Kiernan, President of American Rivers, made the following statement: 

“Today’s ruling constraining EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions is a big setback to clean air and climate action, making it harder to ensure a future that is healthy, just and livable.  

The ruling also raises serious concerns for clean water and rivers. We are looking closely at how this ruling may inform EPA’s authority to regulate pollution in rivers and streams across the country. 

If the federal government’s ability to regulate water pollution is similarly undermined, communities nationwide will face health and safety threats, with low-income communities and Black, Indigenous, Latino/a/x, and Tribal Nations facing disproportionate burdens.  All life needs healthy rivers. Without strong federal protections, the rivers that are the lifeblood of our nation will suffer irreparable harm with major consequences for people, the economy and the environment.”