Dmissions from a coal-fired power plant are silhouetted against the setting sun in Kansas City, Mo., Feb. 1, 2021. The Supreme Court on Thursday, June 30, 2022, limited how the nation’s main anti-air pollution law can be used to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. By a 6-3 vote, with conservatives in the majority, the court said that the Clean Air Act does not give the Environmental Protection Agency broad authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants that contribute to global warming. Credit: Charlie Riedel / AP

Stacy Brenner is an organic farmer from Scarborough who represents District 30 in the Maine Senate. She serves as co-chair of the Legislature’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee.

The landmark case brought to the highest court this year – West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency  – questioned the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources. In a 6-3 vote,  the Supreme Court ruled in favor of drastically and dangerously limiting the EPA’s ability to regulate power plants’ climate pollution, which is one of the largest contributors to climate change in the U.S.

In last month’s devastating decision, the Supreme Court blatantly ignored decades of established EPA authority and precedent under the Clean Air Act – one of our nation’s most fundamental environmental and public health laws. The Supreme Court’s ruling on West Virginia v. EPA is a major blow to climate action and the health of people and communities across the country. More than that, it’s a major gift to polluters.

Air pollution doesn’t recognize state boundaries. The health of Maine people will be deeply affected by this decision. Dirty air from all over the country will end up here. Unfortunately, Maine is considered the “tailpipe” of the nation and is already more susceptible to dangerous airborne particulates that travel on air currents that flow over our borders. For these reasons and more, Maine has some of the highest asthma rates in the country.

At the end of last summer, wildfires from the western U.S. clad the sun in a smoky haze, and young children and folks with lung and heart issues were warned to stay inside. With power plant pollution across the country, days like these could become more frequent in our state as smog clouds make their way to the East Coast. The Supreme Court’s attack on the EPA’s scientific expertise and authority to limit air pollution will allow the Gulf Stream winds to bring more smog, smoke and soot to Maine, putting our health at risk.

What’s more is that the burden of air pollution isn’t a burden that is shared equally. Across the country, low-income communities and communities of color are disproportionately exposed to both toxic air and climate change effects. West Virginia v. EPA will likely go down in history as one of the most dangerous and devastating environmental Supreme Court cases of our lifetimes.

For the health of our families, neighbors, and communities, we cannot give up this fight. I vow to stand with  Maine’s state and local leaders as we continue fighting for policies that protect our beloved environment and the health and freedom of all Mainers.

Under the leadership of Gov. Janet Mills and my colleagues in the Maine Legislature, we have turned comprehensive, science-based and thoughtful legislation to protect Maine’s environment and people into law.

We’ve passed initiatives to help power Maine homes with clean energy, expand Maine’s Ecological Reserve System, fund climate education for Maine students, advance state actions that center environmental justice and equity, and weatherize homes, businesses, schools, and public buildings to reduce energy costs and generate savings. And we did all of this while supporting the creation of good-paying jobs in Maine’s growing clean energy industry, and investing in Maine’s energy independence.

These are all examples of how Maine’s Climate Action Plan is tackling the climate crisis and protecting our future. As co-chair of the Maine Legislature’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee, I understand how vital and urgent climate action bills that cross my desk are, and I refuse to let good policy slip through the cracks in Augusta.

As we’ve seen in D.C., in an instant, progress can be reversed, scrapped and replaced with policies that favor the interests of corporate polluters, greedy developers and far-right extremists.

Who we elect matters. This November, Mainers have a hugely consequential decision to make. Elect and re-elect pro-democracy, pro-climate action candidates or put the future of the Pine Tree State in the hands of corporate polluters.

See you at the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 8.