Last week, the Supreme Court issued three decisions that have profoundly damaged our country’s ability to address pollution and climate change.

In Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo, the Court’s conservative majority overturned its 40-year precedent that has been central to federal agencies’ ability to protect our health, safety, and environment. This decision moves significant authority from agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, Fish & Wildlife Service, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to judges who do not have the scientific background or expertise needed to protect public health and the environment. Justice Gorsuch provided a perfect example of this deeply flawed approach by repeatedly confusing the harmless laughing gas nitrous oxide with the dangerous air pollutant nitrogen oxide in a separate decision.

In Corner Post, the Court’s conservative majority further expanded the deleterious impact of the Loper Bright decision by allowing “new” corporations to claim harm from long-settled regulations. This opens the proverbial floodgates to litigation designed to overturn rules that have protected all of us for years—and even decades. Instead of fulfilling their missions and protecting the public, federal agencies will now be tangled in costly lawsuits brought by industries that can easily create “new” corporate entities trying to avoid commonsense regulations.

In the third troubling decision that will adversely affect the health of millions, the Court’s conservative majority blocked the EPA’s Good Neighbor Rule requiring states to prevent dangerous air pollution from crossing their state boundaries. This ruling is particularly harmful for children and those with asthma and other respiratory diseases.

These three rulings may seem esoteric, but don’t be fooled. The Supreme Court’s conservative majority is intentionally and aggressively establishing new precedents that knee-cap the federal agencies needed to protect a vulnerable public from the fossil fuel and chemical industries and all corporations that benefit from polluting our shared environment.

Pollution disproportionately harms low income and people of color, and these rulings will only make the situation worse. We in the nonprofit sector must do all we can to shore up vulnerable communities in the face of these attacks. Our Catalyst Award supports women of color leaders on the frontlines who are waging battles against corporations like the ones that brought these cases. Support them here.

Fern Shepard is the president of Rachel’s Network and serves on Earthjustice’s Board of Trustees. She has over 30 years of experience in the environmental community, first as a staff attorney with Earthjustice and later as a senior officer managing international lands conservation programs at The Pew Charitable Trusts.

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