Apparently, the Supreme Court just blocked President Obama’s plan to regulate and reduce carbon emissions. I know, I’m upset, too.
But the situation may not be as dire and unreasonable as it seems.
First of all, Mr. Obama’s plan is not dead–this is not the final ruling. The legality of the plan is being challenged in a lower court by a group of states worried about economic harm and the Supreme Court has simply decided that the plan can’t go into effect until the legal question is settled. Disappointing, especially since time is of the essence when it comes to climate action, but to my layperson’s view the principle here seems sound:
If the plan might hurt people (cost them jobs, etc.), then it should not go into effect until we are really sure it’s legal in the first place. After all, if these states are right, it will do their citizens little good to be vindicated after the regional economies have collapsed. This is just the same Uncertainty Principle that environmentalists usually like.
Of course, the net effect of climate action will be economic and social benefit, whether certain people recognize that or not, and we can only hope the courts ultimately recognize that. But the real problem is not what’s happening in the courtroom but what’s happening in the election booth. We need state governments and a Federal legislature that support climate action. And we need a pro-climate President, both for the sake of the presidency and because whoever sits in the Oval Office next will likely appoint four Supreme Court justices–and this recent upsetting decision to block the President’s effort to save the world? The decision was split precisely along ideological lines.
We need a pro-climate Supreme Court.