PROVIDENCE, RI – Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management Director Terry Gray issued the following statement in reaction to the West Virginia v. EPA decision issued today by the U.S. Supreme Court:
“The U.S. government has the duty and moral obligation to cut climate pollution, but by siding with the coal industry and its allies and blocking the EPA from setting effective power plant emissions standards, the Supreme Court has dealt a major blow to the federal government’s authority and ability to cut this pollution. The EPA is DEM’s strongest partner on a host of environmental protection laws and programs including clean air. The Clean Air Act is an extremely good investment, saving as many as 230,000 lives and delivering more than $30 in benefits for every $1 in cost. There is little question that the court’s decision in West Virginia v. EPA will harm Americans’ health. Power plants are this country’s No. 1 source of deadly air pollution, contributing to tens of thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of illnesses every year. These health impacts disproportionately burden communities of color. Even when factors like region and income level are considered, communities of color breathe more air pollution than white people.
“Today’s damaging decision will have little impact on DEM’s ability to regulate power plant sources in Rhode Island. Even this, however, must be tempered by the fact that pollution from upwind states that continue to burn fossil fuels will travel in the atmosphere and ultimately arrive in Rhode Island, affecting our air quality. Strong, forward-looking laws like the Act on Climate, the statutory commitment to move to 100 percent renewable energy by 2033, and the significant investment in offshore wind power and the related infrastructure show Rhode Island’s commitments and leadership on the response to this global crisis. In partnership with Governor McKee, DEM and the entire Administration will continue to lead by example in reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and making our state more resilient.”