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Ocasio-Cortez Gathers Support for Bill to Overrule Supreme Court’s EPA Decision

The lawmaker has introduced a bill to explicitly give the EPA the ability to regulate carbon emissions.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill on April 7, 2022, in Washington, D.C.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) is gathering support in the House for a bill aimed at overturning a recent Supreme Court decision ruling that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is limited in its authority to regulate carbon emissions — a decision that could have devastating consequences for the climate.

Earlier this month, Ocasio-Cortez introduced the EPA Regulatory Authority Act of 2022, a bill that’s narrowly crafted to focus on amending the Clean Air Act, which gives the EPA the authority to regulate air pollution, in order to specifically allow the EPA to identify and reduce emissions from polluters like power plants.

Now, according to E&E News, the congresswoman is shopping around for support for the bill, hoping that it will pass the House even if there’s little chance of it passing the Senate. She says that the bill has about a dozen cosponsors so far.

The bill may be shot down in the Senate, where coal millionaire Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) just killed Congress’s last best chance to pass climate legislation, Ocasio-Cortez says — but its passage in the House would be a strong rebuke against the Supreme Court.

On the last day of the Supreme Court’s term last month, it handed down its decision for West Virginia v. EPA, ruling with plaintiffs who argued that the agency doesn’t have the power to regulate carbon emissions.

It was a case brought against the Barack Obama-era Clean Power Plan, which, if it were ever implemented, would have allowed the EPA to govern power plants to limit their impacts on the climate crisis. The Clean Power Plan was never in effect, but the Supreme Court essentially ruled against it anyway. Along with Manchin’s climate obstruction, the decision could put the country further on the path of major climate destruction. Without further mitigation for the climate crisis, many parts of Earth may be no longer livable for human beings within decades.

However, it’s unclear if Ocasio-Cortez’s bill even has the votes to pass the House. House Natural Resources Committee Chair Rep. Jared Huffman (D-California) and conservative Democrat Rep. Kurt Schrader (Oregon) have both thrown cold water on the idea, E&E found. Huffman said that changing the Clean Air Act in Congress could come with risks, while Schrader, who was key in killing Democrats’ major climate bill last year, said that Congress should focus on other priorities right now.

Ocasio-Cortez recognized the criticisms of her bill, which she said was “a little difficult to understand.”

“I think sometimes there’s this framing of these issues being more complex than they are, but the legislation is quite straightforward,” she said.

If Ocasio-Cortez is able to gather the votes to pass the bill, it would be the fifth bill passed by the House in recent months directly aimed at preempting or combating rulings by the Supreme Court’s far right justices. Last week, the House passed two bills aimed at protecting contraception access and the right to same sex marriage. And earlier this month, the chamber passed bills protecting abortion access and the right of abortion seekers to travel across state lines for the procedure.

Most of these bills would almost certainly get struck down in the Senate, except for the bill protecting same sex marriage, which Senate Republicans say has the support among their caucus to overcome the 60-vote filibuster.

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