It was a bad time working as a PR manager for the chemical industry. In June 1962, Rachel Carson published silent source, soon to be a bestseller, which sparked a wave of public concern about pesticides and pollution. A young man named E. Bruce Harrison, the newly appointed PR rep for the Manufacturing Chemists’ Association, launched a series of personal attacks against Carson (she wasn’t a “real” scientist, she was biased because she had cancer, she probably was a communist). The strategy failed: the industry was branded a villain and bogged down in dealing with the new regulations.
Because of this failure, Harrison developed a new strategy in the 1970s that would shape his work as a consultant to polluting industries for decades to come. The key to breaking the rule was not hostility, he thought, but compromise, as documented by scholar Melissa Aronsky. What if the environment, energy and economy were all equally important? Demanding a “balance” between these “three It’s” would lend credibility to the industry’s position, make it appear fair and responsible – and make environmentalists look like those trying to destroy the economy. Through grassroots efforts, media campaigns, and evidence at regulatory hearings throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Harrison propagated the idea that equal attention should be given to economic development and environmental protection.
This strategy proved to be a great success in that it played an important but silent role in the Supreme Court’s sentencing. West Virginia vs. EPA Last week. The case relates to the Environmental Protection Agency’s power under the Clean Air Act to force power plants to reduce their pollution through the Clean Power Plan — an Obama-era program that never took effect. In a 6-3 court decision, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that federal agencies must expressly state that they need the express consent of Congress to enact regulations that could have broader social and economic consequences. A decision likely to be used to reduce the regulatory powers of government agencies. ,
Even Judge Elena Kagan, who drafted the dissent, did not argue against the need for reconciliation. Harrison’s framing has provided the backdrop for environmental policy discussions for so long that they have gone unnoticed—sometimes with disastrous results.
“This ‘Three E’s’ view has been around for 30 years and it’s been a disaster,” said Brown University sociologist Robert Brull. “The result was a steady march of inaction. We are certainly on the cusp of dangerous climate change, and we are entering the realm of catastrophic climate change. And when do we call it a policy failure?”
Members of Extinction Rebellion DC and other groups protest inaction on climate change following the Supreme Court decision on June 30, 2022 in Washington, DC Bonnie Cash / Getty Images.
court verdict West Virginia vs. EPA Citing the “key question principle,” a vague principle invented by judges and having no basis in the Constitution, that federal agencies cannot make decisions of broad “economic and political importance” unless Congress has approved it. It was not specifically approved.
Part of the Conservative majority’s argument draws on the thinking behind the Three It’s, emphasizing environmental and economic implications. Judge Neil Gorsuch, in his approval, pointed to “indicative factors” supporting the court’s decision: that the rule in question could shut down dozens of power plants, ax thousands of jobs and potentially – according to “industry analysis” – that would lower the electricity bill of the people by $200 billion.
In contrast, Kagan quoted a line from a 2011 case about whether companies could be prosecuted for greenhouse gas emissions. The court dismissed that case because the Clean Air Act gave the EPA power to control carbon emissions, which the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said met the needs of “competing interests” compared to federal judges. The situation was easier to assess. “Our nation’s energy needs and potential for economic disruption must be balanced with the potentially achievable environmental benefits,” she wrote.
It was Harrison’s Three It included in a previous Supreme Court decision.
Even this idea of ”equilibrium” has done little to protect the economy, One of the three pillars. House fires and floods are becoming more common, causing home insurance to skyrocket; The scorching heat is killing cows and crops and affecting our food supply. It is projected that climate change will shrink the US economy by 9 percent within 30 years. Jennifer K., director of the Environmental Law Center at Vermont Law School. “Yes, clean energy planning has significant implications for the economy and our energy mix and energy costs, but so does climate change,” Rushlow said. “The opinion of the majority ignores this fact.”
On December 17, 1963, witnesses called for President Lyndon B. Johnson to sign the Clean Air Act. Henry Burroughs/The Associated Press
back to postsilent source In the 1960s, environmental law was based on various principles. Laws that imposed stricter safety standards on the chemical industry in the 1960s were guided by an ethical framework that contaminated pollutants and protected public health. In 1963, the Clean Air Act was the first federal law to regulate air pollution. The years that followed raised awareness of environmental issues (an estimated 20 million Americans took to the streets during the first Earth Day in 1970) and brought more legislation, such as the Clean Water Act in 1972 and the Endangered Species Act in 1973. Among these Laws was a philosophy articulated by biologist Barry Commoner, who argued in his 1971 book closing panel That ecosystems have unlimited boundaries and that a sustainable society will restructure the economy to fit within those boundaries.
This got the industry into trouble. “It took me the ’70s to get my acting together to counter that,” Brule said. Oil shortages in 1973 and 1979 drove up gas prices and caused “panics at the pump,” giving the oil and gas industry an opportunity to bring economic and energy issues into the debate. At the time, Harrison was working for companies hoping to weaken the Clean Air Act. Under his leadership, the National Environmental Development Association – a trade group made up of chemical, petroleum and mining companies – promoted the idea of ”balance” in their calls for weaker regulations, their own standards for assessing air pollution. worked to establish it and received public support.
Around the same time, economics played an important role in policy-making. In 1975, the federal government created the Congressional Budget Office to provide unbiased, cost-oriented analysis to guide legislation related to poverty, health, and the environment. Economics became the dominant lens for evaluating proposals. All of this had the effect of undermining ambition, and the moral framework that had guided previous environmental legislation lost its footing, as sociologist Elizabeth Pope Berman wrote.
The new structure benefited the corporations. In the early 1990s, the fossil fuel industry began hiring economists to conduct research, making the law prohibitively expensive. For example, an industry-funded study from 1991 found that imposing a carbon tax of $200 per tonne would shrink the US economy by 1.7 percent by 2020, as was widely reported in the press . These analyzes often leave out important considerations such as: B. the cost of failed to act on climate change.
In other words, the “balance” that the fossil fuel industry sought was lacking in balance. But it has shaped the way people think about climate change and the economy today, including Supreme Court justices.