(RNS) — In the Hebrew scriptures, prophet Micah asks the question, “What does the Lord require of you? To do justice and love kindness and walk humbly with your God.”
Unfortunately, justice was not served in the Supreme Court’s ruling this week in West Virginia vs. EPA. In a time where fulfilling what is required of us should demand fighting pollution and addressing climate change, the Court has chosen to limit the federal government’s authority to regulate carbon emissions, striking a blow against our ability to protect our people and planet.
It’s difficult to ignore the motivations here. Coal companies are looking to direct public policy to their benefit, presenting the Supreme Court with arguments over a rule which has never been and never will be in effect. These companies’ self-serving interests have never been so clear, especially now that communities are forced to bear the consequences of increased pollution.
What’s worse is that low-wealth communities and communities of color are hit first and worst by climate change and experience disproportionate air and water pollution. The greed of coal companies stands in complete opposition to the wellbeing of Americans.
From historic wildfires to record-breaking extreme weather, climate change is devastating our health and destroying our environment. The harms of climate change are irreversible, and in the fight against climate change, time is of the essence. Human health can’t wait. Climate can’t wait. Without strategic governmental regulation of pollution, climate disasters, disease, and sickness are only going to increase.
The Supreme Court’s reckless and morally untenable decision not only puts countless lives at risk but deals a major blow to federal climate action, severely limiting the EPA’s authority to regulate carbon pollution under one portion of the Clean Air Act. It did so in the midst of the climate crisis, at the direction of the fossil fuel industry and against broad public demand for climate action.
Our children will grow up in a world where clean air is a luxury and climate disasters are commonplace. By prioritizing the desires of polluters over the safety of the people, the Supreme Court is showing a blatant disregard not only for those it supposedly serves, but also a disregard for God’s beautiful creation.
Strong climate policy and regulation of carbon pollution is one of the only ways to ensure our communities are kept safe and healthy and the integrity of our Sacred Earth is left intact; that our precious air, land, and water are indeed still precious in the years to come.
People of faith and conscience have long been advocating for climate policy that will safeguard our children’s future and care for those burdened by pollution and climate impacts, but we can only do our part if the President and Congress do theirs. We urge our government to act swiftly to protect both the planet and human health. We have a moral responsibility to care for our neighbors, our common home, and to protect our children’s future. The time to act is now.
(Rev. Susan Hendershot is the president of Interfaith Power & Light. Interfaith Power & Light is a national nonprofit organization with 40 state affiliates and 22,000 congregations in all 50 states. IPL inspires and mobilizes people of faith and conscience to take bold and just action on climate change. The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Religion News Service.)