Fifth Ward residents concerned about impact from SCOTUS' ruling on emissions: 'This is what we get?'

Erica Simon Image
Friday, July 1, 2022
Houstonians could be impacted by Supreme Court's EPA ruling
The Supreme Court's ruling on EPA is a blow to those fighting against climate change. In Houston, steps have been taken in Fifth Ward since then, but many feel the Supreme Court's

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- In a 6-3 vote, Conservative justices limited how the United States Environmental Protection Agency can regulate carbon emissions from existing coal-fired power plants Thursday. This is a major blow to those fighting against climate change.

President Joe Biden has a goal of cutting carbon emissions by half by 2030 and believes the EPA has the authority to make that happen.

When EPA Administrator Michael Regan toured Fifth Ward and Kashmere Gardens in the fall of 2021, Sandra Edwards and many others felt hopeful for the first time in their lives.

"We finally, for once, felt help is on the way. We got some relief coming. Somebody see us. Somebody feels our pain. And then, (Thursday), all that was like a drop in the bucket," she explained.

Steps have been taken in Fifth Ward since then, but many feel the Supreme Court's ruling set everyone back. The opinion basically said the EPA has to get guidance from Congress before regulating the greenhouse gasses coal-fired powered plants give off. It can no longer regulate those plants in the way it feels is best.

"Realistically, I think this hobbles the government in its ability to address major problems. Particularly, environmental problems and health and safety problems," Victor Flatt, an environmental law professor at the University of Houston said.

Air Alliance Houston, an environmental non-profit group issued a statement that reads in part:

"The government has an obligation to protect public health and the environment. (Thursday's) ruling - on an EPA plan that was never even implemented - tells the public that industry's concern for profit and power, even in the future, are more important than our climate crisis and its impact on people's health."

According to Air Alliance Houston, coal-fired power plants are responsible for over one-quarter of all carbon emissions in the Lone Star State, which is described as a greenhouse gas that fuels climate change and can lead to extreme weather events including our current heat wave. While the ruling may have more of a long-term impact, Edwards is understandably right now.

"We did everything. We got everybody involved, and this is what we get? What's the point? It's like saying our lives don't matter. Do what you want. Kill them and it'll be OK," she said.

ABC13 reached out to the U.S. EPA's office on Thursday to get their thoughts on the ruling, but obviously, it's a busy time. We haven't heard back yet.

For more on this story, follow Erica Simon on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.