The Supreme Court Gutted the EPA. What Now?

We are outraged and alarmed by today’s overreaching U.S. Supreme Court decision on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s authority to slash carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act. This decision doesn’t just handcuff the EPA when it comes to addressing climate change. It also threatens to limit the agency’s powers beyond the regulation of polluting emissions. It does not bode well for a case the court will hear this fall on the EPA’s ability to protect our country’s waterways.

If you’re like me, you may be feeling despair. This decision is a pat on the back to polluters and an attack on our right to clean air, clean water, and a stable climate. But there are ways to turn our anger and anxiety into direct action. Our best defense at this moment is offense — to strengthen state laws that protect our environment and the rights of people just like you and me to enforce the law.

Waterkeepers Chesapeake plans to meet this moment. I’m writing to ask you for a special donation to support our work during this time of unprecedented attack on our land, air, and water. Now, with uncertainty about the EPA’s future ability to meet its mandate, we need to move aggressively for the strongest, most equitable state protections for our communities and our collective future.

Our member Waterkeepers who are out patrolling rivers and streams, testing them for contaminants, and holding polluters accountable, have also been working furiously over the past several years through litigation and public policy on behalf of all of us:

  • Requiring Maryland to enforce against water pollution: In response to Maryland Dept. of Environment (MDE)’s lowest enforcement rates, with less than 3% of water polluters being held accountable, Waterkeepers Chesapeake, Blue Water Baltimore, ShoreRivers and a broad coalition worked with Sen. Paul Pinsky and Del. Sara Love to pass a bill that requires MDE to inspect all facilities in significant noncompliance and to clear the backlog of more than 200 outdated or expired water pollution control permits, nicknamed “zombie permits”.
  • Updating laws and permits to consider climate change: Most states are using rainfall data that is 30 or more years out of date. Last year, Waterkeepers Chesapeake along with several member organizations, worked with bill sponsors Sen. Sarah Elfreth and Del. Sara Love to pass a bill in Maryland requiring the use of updated data, reflecting current climate conditions, in all permits.
  • Suing to hold polluters accountable: MDE and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission provided a sweetheart deal to Exelon Corp., allowing them to shift virtually all of the costs for cleaning up the environmental harms to the Susquehanna River and the Chesapeake Bay resulting from Conowingo Dam to taxpayers. Waterkeepers Chesapeake, Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper and ShoreRivers decided to sue so that Exelon is held accountable for the costs of their environmental harms.
  • Protecting community justice: In a case involving the construction of a massive Wegmans distribution facility in the historic Black community of Brown Grove, Virginia, residents’ challenge of the zoning approval is going to the State Supreme Court. Waterkeepers Chesapeake worked with local groups to file an amicus brief in support of the community’s right to fight this development that is destroying about 20 acres of freshwater wetlands and harming the community.

These are a few examples of how Waterkeepers are working every day to protect communities and our environment, but there is so much more that needs to be done to empower legislators, and challenge regulators who aren’t holding polluters accountable. That is why it is critical that you make an investment in our work to protect our local communities from pollution.

Too often, communities experiencing the most egregious violations are already overburdened by pollution. When state agencies turn a blind eye to violations, it is a direct threat to these communities’ public health and economic well-being.

We cannot let this truly awful decision by a few judges with a radical worldview keep us down. There is no option but to rise together and fight this injustice. Please make an urgent gift today!