Kenneth Foard McCallion, an environmental attorney who successfully litigated cases involving the Exxon Valdez and Bhopal Gas disasters, discusses the consequences of the recent Supreme Court decision in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency. In a 6-3 decision in West Virginia v EPA, the conservative justices decided the agency cannot create comprehensive policies to reduce global warming. McCallion argues that the Supreme Court has “dealt a body blow to this country’s climate change policies.” The irony is that the Court claims it is returning power to the states and people when 68% of Americans surveyed by Pew Research Center in 2019 said they believe government should be acting to “reduce the effect of global climate change.” Even 39% of Republicans who responded to that survey agree the government is not doing enough. Congress has relied on experts in agencies like the EPA to formulate policies in response to rapidly changing scientific insight into the environment because legislation takes too long to develop. Now, the Court has undercut that authority.
Kenneth discusses how the Court tipped over to an ideologically charged conservative majority and the prospects for new regulations to fight climate change after the ruling. He also has advice about what ordinary citizens can do to influence Congress, state legislatures, and municipal leaders to pass laws and fund programs to reduce emissions, restore nature, and counter the ideological decisions coming in the future from the Supreme Court. His new book, Saving the World One Case at a Time, which recounts his career fighting polluters and representing Holocaust survivors and Gulf War veterans, is available now from Amazon and Powell’s Books.
Editor’s Note: This podcast was originally published on July 22, 2022.