ICCR Response to U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision on West Virginia vs. The EPA
NEW YORK, NY, WEDNESDAY, JULY 6TH, 2022 - ICCR strongly condemns the Supreme Court’s recent decision in West Virginia vs the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to limit the scope of EPA’s authority to limit carbon emissions from power plants. As investors who view climate change as an existential economic, environmental, and public health threat, we are concerned that the Court’s action undercuts EPA’s critical role to set regulatory policy designed to protect the public from the increasingly devastating effects of greenhouse gas pollution. With this decision, the Court has betrayed the public trust and significantly hampered our country’s ability to counter the climate crisis and accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy.
The Supreme Court’s decision is even more troubling, as it more broadly imperils the ability of federal agencies to use their expertise to regulate on a range of issues critical to the public interest, beyond GHG emissions.
ICCR members have long engaged their portfolio companies, including many in the energy sector, to advocate for GHG reductions in recognition of the ever-increasing systemic risks posed by climate change to businesses and, more broadly, to society. In recent years, we have seen the number of companies setting GHG reduction targets grow exponentially as the impacts of climate change have moved from the future hypothetical to current reality with the attendant financial and social costs. While this engagement now is more necessary than ever, given the urgency of the situation investors are acutely aware that voluntary commitments from the private sector will never be enough. To meaningfully curb the current global warming trajectory and bring us in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement, strong climate legislation and regulation are needed. This ruling puts the Paris goals even further out of our reach.
Said ICCR’s CEO Josh Zinner, “Given the current context - a global climate crisis with existential consequences - it is inconceivable that the Supreme Court would move to curtail the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. What is needed are stronger, not weaker, legislative and regulatory structures that will level the playing field for companies and help herald the inevitable transition to a clean energy economy.”
In January, a coalition of climate-aware businesses submitted an Amicus Brief supporting the EPA’s authority, recognizing the “urgent threat to our planet and economy” posed by the climate crisis and arguing that they “…and similar companies cannot fight climate change alone. It is vital that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) play a lead role by regulating greenhouse gas emissions. Both corporate action and EPA regulation are needed to reduce emissions at the rate necessary to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”
“There are clear signs all around us of the extent to which humans have destabilized the natural systems on which we have relied for millennia for our well-being, from the wildfires in the west to the repeated ‘100-year’ storms that have swamped coastal cities,” said Christina Herman, Program Director for Climate Change & Environmental Justice at ICCR. “Vested interests will continue to try to block effective climate action at the federal level. Yet we need effective climate policy to spur a rapid decarbonization of the economy before it is too late - and we need companies that understand the threat to make passage of this policy a top priority - now.”
Continued Zinner, “Industry regulations are a fundamental bulwark of corporate accountability and Congress establishes these agencies to ensure the safety of our air and water, the vehicles we drive, the food we eat, and the products we purchase. Given its expertise and experience, the EPA is best-suited to help regulate dangerous carbon emissions from power plants that are driving the climate crisis threatening our planet. Its mandate should be reinforced, not hobbled.”
Director of Communications
Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility
About the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR)
Celebrating its 51st year, ICCR is the pioneer coalition of shareholder advocates who view the management of their investments as a catalyst for social change. Its 300-member organizations comprise faith communities, socially responsible asset managers, unions, pensions, NGOs, and other socially responsible investors with combined assets of over $4 trillion. ICCR members engage hundreds of corporations annually in an effort to foster greater corporate accountability. Visit our website www.iccr.org and follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.