U.S. bishops disappointed by Supreme Court’s climate regulation ruling

CNA Staff   By CNA Staff for CNA


Kodda / Shutterstock.

Denver Newsroom, Jul 1, 2022 / 14:45 pm (CNA).

The U.S. bishops said Friday they are disappointed by a Supreme Court ruling which limits the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

“The Catholic bishops of the United States have long-supported the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases in order to address climate change,” read a July 1 statement from Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City, chair of the U.S. bishops’ domestic justice committee.

“We are, therefore, disappointed today that following the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Clean Air Act the EPA will have significantly restricted authority to regulate greenhouse gases from power plants.”

In its 6-3 decision in West Virginia v. EPA on June 30, the court ruled that the Clean Air Act does not explicitly give the EPA wide-ranging power to regulate the entire energy industry.

“A decision of such magnitude and consequence rests with Congress itself, or an agency acting pursuant to a clear delegation from that representative body,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion.

The EPA’s regulations, he said, were an example of “agencies asserting highly consequential power beyond what Congress could reasonably be understood to have granted.”

Coakley wrote that “both reasonable regulation and legislation are critical for addressing the threat and challenges of climate change. We call upon Congress to give the EPA the necessary authority to meaningfully regulate greenhouse gases.”

He quoted a 2018 memo from the U.S. bishops’ office of general counsel to the administrator of the EPA urging that the agency has “both the statutory authority and responsibility to take regulatory action… It is hard to foresee a scenario, under current economic and technological conditions, in which the EPA faithfully carries out its mandate to protect the public health from greenhouse gases without significantly affecting political and economic realities.”

Laudato si’, Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical on care for our common home, covered a wide range of topics in relation to the environment – from climate change, species extinction, and resource depletion, to waste, economic structures, and global inequality.

The encyclical praised St. Francis of Assisi for living out an “integral ecology” with joy and authenticity.

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  1. These Bishops did not learn their sciences as CO2 is essential to plant growth and the development of humis that improves the tilth of the soils. Interesting that the Bishops are so interested in Climate Change while their churches burn and are desecrated by the left with their union between climate change and abortion.

  2. This story absolutely *defies* belief.

    I am appalled at our bishops’ fatuousness and arrogance. I mean, what in heaven’s name do they know about climate science as they issue their deep and weighty climactic pronunciamento?

    Climate change? Are you kidding me?

    A few brief points about climate change.

    • The earth’s climate is changing. Duh. It has always changed. And life on earth has always adjusted. That’s what life does. Devastating the economies of entire nations in an impossible quest for an unchanging climate is needlessly imposing misery on humanity. It’s almost as if the left were purposely bringing about poverty. (Raises one eyebrow tellingly.)

    • A 1.5-degree warming of the climate in a century is hardly the “existential threat” that the warmists claim. Think of the people now living 60 miles south of your home. That’s what your hometown will be like after a century of warming. Do they “exist” now, even with a climate that’s 1.5 degree warmer than yours? Is their town an uninhabitable hell-on-earth? Are they bursting into flames atop thousand-foot-high sand dunes? No? That’s good information to ponder.

    • Carbon dioxide is not a poison. It’s not a pollutant. It’s a necessity for life on earth. Indeed, carbon is the molecule of life. Remember when, in one of the early episodes of ‘Star Trek’, humans were called “carbon units” by the aliens because we are composed to a large degree of carbon? In eons past, the earth did experience significantly higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than we have now. The difference then? Plants thrived, food was plentiful and large mammals literally covered the earth, from pole to pole. In sum, more carbon dioxide equals more plants equals more animals equals a better, less stressful life for all.

    • The “scientists” we keep hearing about who are sounding the climate alarm are meteorologists — weathermen. Their climate hysteria is based on computer programs that are not validated. They are closed loops with no way to account for all of the parameters that determine climate now, let alone decades from now. (Such as solar activity, the earth’s magnetic field, etc.) These are the same types of computer programs that predicted that the deaths from COVID-19 would be exponentially higher than what actually came to pass. Lowering all of humanity’s living standards based on such flimsy computer modeling is not just irresponsible. It’s diabolical.

    • There are indications that the sun may be entering a period of relative dormancy, as it did for a few hundred years, starting in the fourteenth century. The inactive sun meant less energy released, which led to the Little Ice Age in America and Europe. Rivers and canals in northern Europe froze, vineyards were destroyed, cereal production in Ireland was devastated, and famine hit France. (Interestingly, the cold also caused hardwood trees to grow denser and harder, leading to the remarkable tone of Stradivarius’ string instruments.)

    I could go on and on. And on.

    For example, about the indications that the earth’s magnetic field may now be in the process of flipping. This will affect how much of the sun’s energy strikes the earth. The problem is, the last time such a thing took place — an event known as the Laschamp excursion — was more than 40,000 years ago. So information on how earth’s climate was affected is hard to come by.

    Anyway, it is hard to conclude that our bishops are anything but utter morons, to be wandering so far afield from their area of familiarity.

    On the other hand, I wonder if they would be able to advise me on how best to treat my tinnitus. Or what kind of tires to buy. Or a really good recipe for chicken marsala.

    Meanwhile, the irrepressible Nancy Pelosi, who is as responsible as anyone for the killing of scores and scores of millions of children around the world, continues to bait her bishop and encourage Catholics to oppose the Church’s teachings, by presenting herself to receive the Eucharist — at the Vatican, of all places. Think our brainiac American bishops would have anything to say about her?

    Nah. Why would they.

    Do I sound a tad irritated at our bishops? Bitter even?

    So be it.

  3. Our good bishops are towing the Party line that includes the Dem Party and the Vatican policy on the environment [basically Green]. We never hear the USCCB complain about the open border policy and the multiple travesties of injustice, human suffering, deaths,rapes, child exploitation, the monumental influx of drugs literally murdering our youth [drugs laced with Fentanyl]. Where is the moral admonition to this coming out of this hierarchal forum?
    If they decided to candidly assess these issues without bowing to the Party and the Vatican [what can the Vatican do with justice, although unfortunately the pontiff has acted with injustice toward singular bishops in Puerto Rico and elsewhere? However not with a bishops conference, Germany and the Synodal Way is more of a promotion].

  4. The bishops missed the point that the ruling against EPA simply means that legislating must be done by the Congress and not by administrative agencies or the courts. (The celebrated Dobbs decision re-establishes this principle.) This line of demarcation can be a tough one to figure out, given the clumsiness of legal drafting, on the one hand, and on the other hand the complexity and intricacy of the scientific world.

    I also concur with Fr. Morello that the bishops have a history of selectivity as to which public policy areas (prudential judgment, not doctrines of the faith or belief) they choose to notice.

    But, to help retain the reputation of CWR as partly a credible forum on such lively matters…

    I invite readers to supplement Brineyman’s exposition of what “absolutely defies belief” on the meaning of 1.5 degrees Centigrade. In general, yes, natural systems are resilient and not well-modeled, but resilient only within boundary conditions and tipping points which merit informed consideration and forethought. https://climate.nasa.gov/news/2865/a-degree-of-concern-why-global-temperatures-matter/

    The historic issue might be less one of sunspot cycles than whether the bourgeois model (another imperfect “model”!) of economic development can be forever extended across the face of the earth and into the future, all in an attempt to materially outrun human appetites and conflicts. OR whether Nature, as our silent partner, is actually the last slave culture—which now is signaling to the plantation owners that enough is enough.

    In one of his hundreds of letters, St. Augustine sixteen centuries ago, connected in a Christian way our unlimited bucket list and our finite bucket: “the passions are more easily mortified finally in those who love God, than satisfied, even for a time, in those who love the world.”

    What, really, should a viable post-modern world really look like?

    • Peter, your point certainly merits consideration.

      But you’re talking about boundaries that are not apparent yet and are, in the end, impossible to pinpoint ahead of time.

      I say we should trust to God and human ingenuity to deal with whatever problems arise in the future — that is, if they do arise at all.

      In the meantime, we should avoid ruining economies and starving masses of people in a vain attempt to stabilize inherently unstable global climate conditions.

      • Yes, six of one, half-dozen of the other…
        But, rather than the hubris of allegedly attempting to “stabilize inherently unstable global climate conditions,” might the better question be largely one of (a) adapting fundamentally (but not “ruining”), AND (b) earlier rather than later, BECAUSE boundaries “hard to pinpoint ahead of time,” AND (c) possibly not aggravating things along the way (established restraints on over-harvesting, for example, which are not entirely new or “beyond belief”)?

        I would agree that the bishops are not climatologists. Always difficult to raise the moral dimension of solidarity in a technical world, while also respecting–what’s that word again, oh yes–boundaries. Especially when abandoned by the likely more expert laity (e.g., the Land O’ Lakes Declaration).

        Perhaps, if framed properly, the Church is arguing for, yes, imperfect but responsible prudential judgment, with sufficient lead time? This call is well within the bounds of Catholic Social Teaching (CST) and the moral virtues on which the CST is based (temperance, courage, fortitude—and prudence), not ideology.

        As for your “human ingenuity,” St. John Paul II celebrates this part of the equation with you (!), in Centesimus Annus (1991):

        “In our time, in particular, there exists another form of ownership which is becoming no less important than land: the possession of know-how, technological skill [italics]. The wealth of the industrialized nations is based much more on this kind of ownership than on natural resources”; “Man himself, that is, his knowledge, especially his scientific knowledge, his capacity for interrelated and compact organization, as well as his ability to perceive the needs [not market demands?] of others and to satisfy them” (n. 32), [involving an “interdisciplinary” conversation where] “humanity today must be conscious of its duties and obligations toward future generations” (n. 37), etc.

        But, again, ingenuity is not hubris or unquestioned momentum. Just how ‘interrelated and compact” are things, really? A good question even if it is raised by morons. The Dust Bowl happened.

        • I appreciate your thoughtful comments, Peter, and I largely agree with you. You are certainly better versed in theology than I.

          And I think you realize I’m not advocating for untrammeled, abusive exploitation of resources.

          I’m just pointing out that the climate change argument is badly flawed and that the draconian measures that warmists are calling for would be onerous to humanity — especially the poor — and would very likely serve no purpose other than to further consolidate political power in the hands of a few.

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