July 1, 2022
The Central Conference of American Rabbis bemoans Thursday’s Supreme Court decision in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, which severely limits the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate carbon emissions that have led to the disastrous climate crisis facing our planet.
In our Resolution on the Climate Crisis, issued in May of this year, we noted that U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described the report of “[t]he Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Crisis, a U.N. body comprised of international climate scientists” as “‘an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership.’…[T]he report … emphasized that unless greenhouse gas emissions are quickly reduced, the world’s collective ability to overcome the crisis will soon be overwhelmed.”[i] Since President Biden has taken office and reentered the 2015 Paris Agreement, the U.S. has been obligated to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, and the Environmental Protection Agency has robustly pursued this aim, a power delegated to it by Congress. Today’s Supreme Court ruling imperils that important work, irresponsibly arguing that Congress would need to predict all the strategies required to achieve a goal it authorizes an Executive Branch agency to pursue.
Midrash teaches “God’s prescient warning to the first human beings: ‘Look at how beautiful and excellent My works are! Take care not to spoil or destroy My world, for if you do, there will be no one to repair it after you.’”[ii] At a time when Congress is so divided, and the prospect for renewed climate legislation is dim, Thursday’s ruling offers the U.S. government few tools to confront the climate crisis that threatens God’s creation.
Even so, Reform rabbis refuse to abandon hope. The CCAR urges Congress to provide the specific authorization that the Supreme Court now requires in order for the Environmental Protection Agency to achieve its mandate to reduce carbon emissions and bequeath a habitable world to future generations.
Rabbi Lewis Kamrass, President
Rabbi Hara E. Person, Chief Executive
Central Conference of American Rabbis
[i] Central Conference of American Rabbis Resolution on the Climate Crisis, May 20, 2022, Central Conference of American Rabbis Resolution on the Climate Crisis – Central Conference of American Rabbis (ccarnet.org).
[ii] Kohlet Rabbah 7:13, cited in CCAR Resolution on the Climate Crisis.