- The American Medical Association said it was discouraged following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling Thursday that severely limits the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate power plant emissions.
- The association previously filed a friend-of-the-court brief for the case, West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency in 2016, stating that failing to grant EPA its authority to regulate carbon emissions from power plants would “negatively impact the health of current and future generations of Americans.”
- The statement reflects previous climate-related sentiments from the AMA. During the association’s annual meeting held in early June, it labeled climate change a “public health crisis that threatens the health and well-being of all people.”
In the 6-3 ruling for West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, the Supreme Court deprived the federal government of the authority to enact sweeping regulations under the Clean Air Act.
In the dissent, the three liberal justices called climate change “the most pressing environmental challenge of our time,” with Justice Elena Kagan writing that “whatever else this court may know about, it does not have a clue about how to address climate change.”
“The court appoints itself — instead of Congress or the expert agency — the decision maker on climate policy,” Kagan wrote. “I cannot think of many things more frightening.”
In addition to writing the friend-of-the-court brief, the AMA filed an additional amicus brief for the case in February, writing alongside other associations including the American Thoracic Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics and others.
“The scale and gravity of these dangers demand regulatory action to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide,” the amicus brief stated.
In its annual meeting, the AMA vowed that it would advocate for policies aimed at the U.S. reaching carbon neutrality by 2050, regulating greenhouse gas emissions and limiting atmospheric warming. Additionally, the association said it would support climate justice investments and clean energy solutions.
Speaking on behalf of the association, newly-appointed AMA president Jack Resneck stated that physicians and leaders in medicine “recognize the urgency of supporting environmental sustainability efforts.”
“As a public health agency, EPA’s number one responsibility is to protect people’s health, especially those who are on the front lines of environmental pollution,” the EPA said in a statement following the Supreme Court ruling. “Make no mistake: we will never waver from that responsibility.”