A new opinion piece by Linda Stamato and Sandy Jaffe, policy fellows at the New Jersey State Policy Lab covers how two recent decisions by the United States Supreme Court diminish the regulatory authority of federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency. The authors say these are bold and frightening moves that are not good for the nation or the planet.
Two recent decisions by the United States Supreme Court have significantly curtailed the regulatory authority of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in matters concerning the nation’s wetlands and climate change mitigation. These rulings represent a concerning shift away from robust environmental regulation and have raised alarms about their potential consequences for both the nation and the planet. The Court’s conservative majority has advanced the view that federal agencies possess only the powers explicitly outlined in statutes, a stance that threatens the effective functioning of regulatory bodies, potentially undermining their ability to fulfill their vital roles.
Conservatives have long targeted independent agencies, including the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission, as part of a broader assault on government infrastructure. This attack is driven by powerful interests seeking regulatory relief and has found support from prominent conservative think tanks. The roots of this antagonism toward regulatory bodies trace back to a 1971 memo by Lewis F. Powell Jr., which aimed to equate business economic freedom with individual freedom, ultimately leading to a well-organized, well-funded movement against regulation. As these conservative aspirations gain momentum, it is crucial for the public to understand the critical functions and importance of regulatory agencies, as their erosion poses a significant threat to the public good and government effectiveness.