More on the Supreme Court’s recent environmental protection failures 

In recent weeks, two significant Supreme Court rulings have shaken the foundations of environmental protection, with major implications for air quality and public health in Utah. The court’s decisions to halt the EPA’s “Good Neighbor” rule and to overturn the Chevron Deference Doctrine have sparked widespread concern among environmental advocates and public health experts, including our very own co-founder and president Dr. Brian Moench.

See our initial thoughts on the Good Neighbor Rule update: The Supreme Court suspends the ‘Good Neighbor’ EPA air quality rule

See our initial thoughts on the Chevron Deference Doctrine update: Supreme Court dismantles the historical role of federal agencies

The Supreme Court’s decision to put a hold on the EPA’s “Good Neighbor” rule has far-reaching consequences for states like Utah, whose state officials do little to nothing to manage emissions from coal power plants, which drift across state lines. The Good Neighbor rule was designed to curb emissions from power plants, thereby reducing smog and ozone pollution that can travel from state to state. Utah sued to block this rule, arguing that it represented federal overreach. UPHE fought to uphold the rule to protect public health and control big industry pollution.

Oil refineries and coal-fired power plants are linked to global warming and climate change. Pictured is oil refinery in Utah with smoke stacks emitting carbon smoke.

Dr. Brian Moench emphasized the detrimental impact of this ruling to the Standard Examiner, stating, “Essentially, the Supreme Court has made another ruling that ties the hands of federal agencies in protecting the public. The court’s action to delay any sort of reasonable increase in the pollution controls of these power plants is going to cost people lives. It’s undoubtedly going to cost thousands of lives. It’s going to affect the health of hundreds of thousands of children, or maybe even more.”

“We now know that air pollution affects the functioning of every single organ system. It can even penetrate every single organ system, including individual cells within all critical organs, the brain, the heart, the lungs, kidneys, liver, etc,” he added.

UPHE sees the court’s action as a huge setback for climate protection, and since lowering the pollution control standards would be financially beneficial to coal-fired plants, a financial gift that many of them will exploit to stay in business longer. And we know that the carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants are major contributors to the climate crisis.

In another landmark decision, the Supreme Court threw out the Chevron Deference Doctrine, which had long authorized the EPA to regulate pollutants from industrial sources. This ruling strips the EPA of its power to regulate some of Utah’s major industrial contributors to air pollution, placing greater responsibility on state authorities.

Many of Utah’s lawmakers hailed this decision as a victory against federal overreach, demonstrating exactly why it was put in place to begin with. Dr. Moench expressed grave concerns about this shift, stating, “It’s going to harm the long-term health of hundreds of thousands of children. The cost is enormous.”

Moench further criticized the ruling, saying, “I would characterize this as not federal overreach that they’ve overturned, but they’ve instituted Supreme Court overreach. I don’t think this is anything that anybody, including our lawmakers, should be celebrating.”

These Supreme Court decisions underscore the urgent need for robust environmental protections and proactive measures to safeguard public health. Despite the court’s rulings, UPHE remains steadfast in our commitment to advocating for cleaner air and healthier environments. We will continue to hold both federal and state governments accountable, pushing for policies that prioritize the well-being of Utah residents over industrial interests.

Deseret News coverage on the Good Neighbor ruling.

KSL coverage on the Chevron Deference Doctrine ruling.