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Court Restricts Biden's Climate Mission07/01 06:20

   A Supreme Court ruling Thursday not only limited the Environmental 
Protection Agency's ability to regulate climate pollution by power plants, but 
also suggests the court is poised to block other efforts by Biden and federal 
agencies to limit the climate-wrecking fumes emitted by oil, gas and coal.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- More than 500 days into his presidency, Joe Biden's hope 
for saving the Earth from the most devastating effects of climate change may 
not be dead.

   But it's not far from it.

   A Supreme Court ruling Thursday not only limited the Environmental 
Protection Agency's ability to regulate climate pollution by power plants, but 
also suggests the court is poised to block other efforts by Biden and federal 
agencies to limit the climate-wrecking fumes emitted by oil, gas and coal.

   It's a blow to Biden's commitment to slash emissions in the few years 
scientists say are left to stave off worse and deadlier levels of global 
warming. And it's a sign, to Democrats at home and allies abroad, of the 
dwindling options remaining for Biden to reverse the legacy of President Donald 
Trump, who mocked the science of climate change. Trump's three Supreme Court 
appointees provided half of the affirmative votes in Thursday's 6-3 ruling.

   After the ruling, a veteran Democratic lawmaker acknowledged he saw no hope 
of Congress producing any meaningful climate legislation, either. The foreign 
allies whom Biden once spoke of leading to a global clean-power transformation 
are wondering if the United States can even lead itself.

   And in a Houston neighborhood entering hurricane season, a man who had spent 
four decades advocating for the Black communities and other communities of 
color and poorer communities hit hardest by pollution and the record heat, 
cold, floods and storms of climate change reacted to the ruling like many 
others did Thursday -- saying it was all up to Biden now to act -- and act in a 
big way.

   "This is real," said Robert Bullard, an academic who became a pioneer in 
what became the U.S. environmental justice movement, of the multiplying natural 
disasters -- the kind scientists say are increasingly influenced by the heating 
atmosphere -- wrecking cities on America's vulnerable Gulf of Mexico.

   "Those communities that have been flooded out...some of those communities 
still have blue tarps on their houses," Bullard said. "So I don't think the 
Supreme Court and and some of our elected officials are speaking about the 
urgency of where we are when it comes to our climate."

   The dismay at the ruling expressed by many among what is a majority of 
people in America who say they care deeply about climate change reflected this 
was only the latest setback to Biden's early promises to slash emissions.

   A narrowly divided Congress already handed Biden what's been the worst 
climate defeat of his term so far when two Democrats, including coal-state 
lawmaker Joe Manchin, joined Senate Republicans in refusing to pass Biden's 
Build Back Better package.

   Climate parts of the legislation were meant to kickstart America's 
transformation into a land of electric cars, clean industry and 
energy-efficient buildings. Biden was able to move forward some smaller parts 
of his proposal, including electric car chargers.

   And this year, in a development as dangerous for Biden's early climate hopes 
as the Supreme Court ruling, a global oil and gas supply crunch has sent gas 
prices pinging off record highs. It's fueled inflation and voter anger against 
Biden, and potentially other Democrats.

   The energy shortfall left Biden scrambling for additional oil and gas. It's 
also left it unclear whether he still feels he has the political capital to 
lead the U.S. move to renewable energy as decisively as he promised as a 
candidate and in his first months in office.

   The ruling left policy experts, lawmakers and ordinary people saying Biden, 
Democrats and climate-minded Republicans still have some routes left to push 
through climate efforts.

   One is ambitious, shrewd executive action -- if Biden dares -- to push 
through carefully targeted emission-cutting steps.

   A second is climate action by California and the other blue states that 
earlier swung into action to challenge Trump's climate rollbacks in court.

   A third option is a pitch that Biden and Democrats are throwing to voters 
more and more -- elect enough Democrats in the midterms to allow Congress to 
pass laws thwarting rollbacks by conservatives, in Congress and on the Supreme 
Court.

   Biden has pledged to cut the nation's greenhouse gas emissions in half by 
the end of the decade and to have an emissions-free power sector by 2035.

   Biden offered no guarantees of success in his comments after the court 
ruling.

   "While this decision risks damaging our nation's ability to keep our air 
clean and combat climate change, I will not relent in using my lawful 
authorities to protect public health and tackle the climate crisis," he said in 
a statement.

   His team would "find ways that we can, under federal law, continue 
protecting Americans" from pollution and climate change, he said.

   The Biden administration can still do a strong rule on carbon emissions and 
greenhouse gas emissions generally, and it ought to do it fast, said Sen. 
Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat.

   As it is, "there's no easy fix from Congress from this mess," Whitehouse 
said, blaming past court rulings on political donations for "the big, dark 
polluter money" he said holds sway in politics now.

   The Supreme Court ruling came as Biden was savoring a successful gathering 
with NATO allies, who have rallied behind the U.S. in confronting Russia's 
invasion of Ukraine. After Biden's early proclamations in summits at the outset 
of his term that "America is back!," the setback in the Supreme Court 
underscored to allies how vulnerable the U.S. president remains on the domestic 
front, including when it comes to fulfilling climate commitments.

   As the ruling was released, Biden envoy John Kerry was flying out after an 
oceans conference in Portugal, still working for global and country-by-country 
commitments to cut emissions.

   The domestic climate setbacks have helped slow early global momentum for 
climate breakthroughs. They've weakened U.S. leverage as Kerry presses 
countries including China to swing away from coal and other damaging fossil 
fuels -- something Biden had pledged the U.S. would lead on by example.

   Among allies abroad, the Supreme Court ruling could shock America's 
transatlantic partners like few other developments, said Max Bergmann, director 
of the Europe program at the Center for Strategic and International studies.

   The climate decision in some ways "may have broader impacts at least on the 
European populace that this is a country that, A: can't get things done and B: 
is going in a really bizarre direction domestically," Bergmann said.

 
 
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