Shifting Tides in US Environmental Law: The Supreme Court’s Decision on Chevron Deference

The Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn Chevron deference—a doctrine allowing federal agencies like the EPA to interpret ambiguous laws—signals a significant shift in US environmental law.

This decision removes the regulatory authority from scientific experts and places it in the hands of nonexpert judges, enabling increased legal challenges to federal regulations. The Chevron doctrine initially benefited polluting industries by simplifying regulatory processes, providing stability for businesses reliant on consistent federal guidelines.

However, as it enabled the implementation of stringent environmental regulations, it became contentious among industrial interests and conservatives.

The fossil fuel industry, notably the Koch brothers, has played a key role in opposing environmental regulations and promoting doubt about climate science, effectively stalling climate action in the US. Leonard Leo and the Federalist Society have supported these efforts by influencing the appointment of ultraconservative judges to the Supreme Court.

Shifting Tides in US Environmental Law: The Supreme Court's Decision on Chevron Deference
Shifting Tides in US Environmental Law: The Supreme Court’s Decision on Chevron Deference

The recent rulings against federal agencies, such as the EPA and SEC, further erode the administrative state, making it easier for companies to challenge long-standing regulations.

The elimination of Chevron deference means federal agencies might become more cautious in their actions, fearing lawsuits. This trend could have severe consequences for environmental protections and public health.

Despite this shift, lower courts have continued to use Chevron in favor of federal agencies, but the path is now open for more legal challenges by well-funded polluters. Environmental laws like the Clean Air and Clean Water acts are likely targets, and new regulations on substances like PFAS might face significant pushback due to the costs of compliance.

Leonard Leo’s network is already aiming to influence future Supreme Court decisions, such as the ongoing climate lawsuits by cities like Honolulu against fossil fuel companies. The conservative court’s potential involvement could undermine efforts to hold these companies accountable, further weakening environmental protections in the US.

Michael Manua
Michael Manua
Michael, a seasoned market news expert with 29 years of experience, offers unparalleled insights into financial markets. At 61, he has a track record of providing accurate, impactful analyses, making him a trusted voice in financial journalism.
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