This article first published in the July 16, 2022, edition of the Petoskey News Review.
In a landmark decision on June 30, the U.S. Supreme Court endangered our climate future by siding with fossil fuel interests.
In their ruling, the court’s six conservative justices agreed that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency—a federal agency created by a bipartisan Congress to protect Americans’ health and environment from pollution—has exceeded their authority to regulate carbon pollution from power plants. Carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels accounted for 79 percent of the total U.S. emissions in 2020, according to the EPA Overview of U.S Greenhouse Gas Emissions.
Although West Virginia v. EPA hampers current action, this decision confirms that the EPA does hold the authority to set regulatory standards for power plant emissions. Ironically, this opens a significant opportunity for climate leaders and the EPA to leverage their authority to promulgate new coal and gas plant emission rules.
Limited federal response makes local action even more critical. In Petoskey, our community values transitioning to clean and renewable energy. We’ve built energy independence through the city’s commitment to power the entire community with 100 percent renewable electricity by 2035 and the success of the Grow Solar Little Traverse (GSLT) program (offered by Michigan Interfaith Power & Light and Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities). This spring, 18 households and businesses joined the pilot GSLT group buy program to install significantly discounted solar arrays on their properties, representing solid steps in the right direction.
But now, we know we must do more. The time is ripe to organize, advocate, litigate, and show up to the polls. This year, climate champions must be elected at all levels of government. Locally, that means voting for leaders who will ensure that our community meets our clean energy commitments and continues to be a beacon of hope and inspiration for the region.
Liv Rollinger, Climate & Clean Energy Specialist, Groundwork