Medical groups condemn Supreme Court ruling that curbs EPA's oversight of carbon emissions

The American Medical Association and American Academy of Pediatrics have warned the Supreme Court's June 30 ruling that limited the Environmental Protection Agency's authority to regulate carbon emissions — a key driver of climate change — will have negative consequences for public health. 

In West Virginia v. EPA, the court ruled 6-3 that the EPA or any other agency does not have the authority to adopt rules to regulate "a significant portion of the economy" without congressional authorization. The decision limits the EPA's ability to set carbon emissions standards for existing power plants. Behind transportation, coal-fired power plants are the largest source of pollution in the U.S., according to the EPA

"Capping carbon dioxide emission at a level that will force a nationwide transition away from the use of coal to generate electricity may be a sensible 'solution to the crisis of the day,'" Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion. "But it is not plausible that Congress gave the EPA the authority to adopt on its own such a regulatory scheme." 

Jack Resneck, MD, president of the AMA, said the group is "deeply disappointed" by the decision. 

"Regulating and reducing greenhouse gas emissions is critical for combating the climate crisis and its major health implications, impacting the respiratory, cardiovascular and immune systems of the U.S. population, with minoritized populations disproportionately impacted," he said in a statement

"As physicians and leaders in medicine, we recognize the urgency of supporting environmental sustainability efforts to help halt global climate change and the devastating health harms that it is sure to bring. Despite this ruling, we will continue to do our part to protect public health and improve health outcomes for our patients across the nation," Dr. Resneck said. 

In a series of tweets July 7, the American Academy of Pediatrics said the decision "will have major consequences for children's health." 

"Every child should have the right to breathe clean air. To ensure that right, our federal government must be able to pass regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The decision will make it harder for that to happen now and harder for regulations to pass in the future," the AAP said. 

"Pediatricians will continue to work in our communities and at the state and federal levels to advocate for laws and regulations that ensure a healthy planet and healthy air for future generations." 

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