Press Releases

NY Climate Plan, Bond Act Now More Urgent

New York’s nearly final Climate Plan became much more urgent today, following a decision by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), the Adirondack Council said.  

The organization also urged approval of a proposed bond act to carry out the state's climate plan.   

SCOTUS today ruled that the US Environmental Protection Agency overstepped its authority when it attempted to curb the use of coal in making electricity at power plants and could not require industry-wide reductions in greenhouse gas emissions whose impact threatens all life on earth. 

“The court just ruled that the nation’s top environmental regulator and expert on the environment doesn’t have the right to issue a rule designed to protect the public from certain death if that rule inconveniences the coal industry,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway.  “The court sided with the Midwest states and companies that for generations have insisted on mining and burning coal.  They know very well that the emissions from coal are killing people across the Midwest and Northeast, still harming forests and waters of the Adirondacks with acid rain, and contribute to the climate crisis. 

“The court’s decision to protect coal and endanger everyone else makes it much more urgent for New York to display strong leadership on greenhouse gas reductions,” said Janeway.  “This ups the pressure for a strong statewide climate plan.  State officials are finalizing one now.  It also cries out for approval of the Clean Water and Jobs Bond Act, which will help us carry out that plan.” 

The $4.2-billion Clean Water and Jobs Bond Act is on the statewide ballot, slated for November 8, 2022.  

“The court went far out of its way in this case to make a political statement,” he said. “It was attempting to stop EPA from acting on climate, rather than acting as an arbiter of urgent Constitutional issues.” 

Justice Elena Kagan agreed in her dissenting opinion, writing: “Whatever else this Court may know about, it does not have a clue about how to address climate change, and let’s say the obvious: The stakes here are high. Yet the Court today prevents congressionally authorized agency action to curb power plants’ carbon dioxide emissions. The Court appoints itself – instead of Congress or the expert agency – the decisionmaker on climate policy. I cannot think of many things more frightening.” 

Janeway notes that the court was acting to defend the coal industry rather than public health and welfare.  It acted to cut off a means of regulating power plants, just as the EPA was preparing to issue a new rule on the clean-up of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions nationwide.  The court said EPA could not force an industry-wide action, like forcing all companies to drop coal from the fuel supply, and must act in a way that allows individual power plants to tailor their own solutions. 

The court’s decision was based on complaints over the Obama era Clean Power Plan, which required CO2 reductions of 32% from power plants nationwide.  That rule imposed an allowance trading program similar to the one used by EPA to reduce acid rain.  However, that plan was repealed by the Trump administration and replaced with a rule that required no carbon reductions at all.  

“The court’s decision today kills the Clean Power Plan for a second time. What is the point of shooting something that is already dead?” Janeway mused.  “It is designed to send a message that the court doesn’t see the global climate crisis as a deadly threat to public health – it sees regulation as a deadly threat to fossil fuel industry's excessive profits.  Like Justice Kagan, we cannot think of many things more frightening.” 

Last year, the Biden administration repealed the do-nothing Trump carbon rule and announced it will issue a new rule that is not based on the Clean Power Plan.  Ironically, the reductions sought by the Clean Power Plan have already been achieved.  Market forces have made other fuels less expensive and state-level environmental campaigns against coal have caused power companies to seek cleaner sources. 

This spring, the EPA closed two dozen air quality monitoring sites across the Northeast, including four in Upstate New York, two of those inside the Adirondack Park.  EPA cited repeated budget shortfalls since the Trump administration as the reason it didn’t have the money to continue operating the stations.   

Coal state US Sen. Joe Machin, D-WV, joined Senate Republicans in stripping from the 2023 federal budget millions of dollars in funding increases for EPA’s air monitoring program approved by the House of Representatives. The Adirondack Council is working restore funding for those sites and to modernize the acid rain/climate monitoring network nationwide. Now more than ever this will need to be a priority.  

Established in 1975, the Adirondack Council is a privately funded not-for-profit organization whose mission is to ensure the ecological integrity and wild character of the Adirondack Park. It is the largest environmental organization whose sole focus is the Adirondacks. 

The Council carries out its mission through research, education, advocacy and legal action. It envisions a Park with clean water and clean air, core wilderness areas, farms and working forests, and vibrant, diverse, welcoming, safe communities.  Adirondack Council advocates live in all 50 United States. 

For more information: 

John Sheehan, Adirondack Council, 518-441-1340 

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