Today, policy experts from the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund, the Union of Concerned Scientists, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and the Center for Progressive Reform released a report titled In the Wake of West Virginia v. EPA: Legislative and Administrative Paths Forward for Science-Driven Regulation, Safeguarding Government Regulation from Improper Judicial Interference. The report was co-authored by Rachael Lyle, James Goodwin, Kevin Bell, and Andrew Rosenberg.
In our work over the past decade, CSLDF has directly witnessed the importance of a properly functioning regulatory system to preserve scientific integrity. The recent U.S. Supreme Court case West Virginia v. EPA threatens the effectiveness of this system by introducing a dubious new legal theory. This urgent report analyzes the impacts of that case by explaining the important role science-driven regulation plays within our country’s constitutional framework, including describing how federal judges who are hostile to the regulatory system have been actively working to undermine its effectiveness.
Protecting the scientific endeavor is at the heart of CSLDF’s work. This timely report discusses why regulation must be science- and expert-driven and explains how, in the face of West Virginia v. EPA, judges may now feel empowered to substitute their policy preferences for evidence-based policymaking that federal agencies with vital subject-matter expertise are statutorily required to perform. The co-authors offer their recommendations for advancing evidence-based policymaking in the face of improper judicial interference, providing tangible steps that agencies can take to address climate change.
The report also offers ways that agencies and Congress can safeguard the regulatory system by ensuring that it continues to function as intended by those who enshrined it in law. For policies to meaningfully address climate change and other pressing public health issues, they must first and foremost be driven by science, not politics. Fortunately, meaningful efforts to fight climate change are still possible, and agencies have a range of tools available to create rules that reduce emissions from, for example, the transportation, power generation, agriculture, and industry sectors.
Importantly, the report calls for Congress and federal agencies to act right now. In the face of increasing judicial interference in a regulatory system that has enjoyed broad public support for decades, the government must continue to protect public safety and the environment. For these reasons, the report calls for the passage of the Scientific Integrity Act, the Stop Corporate Capture Act, and a bill that would respond directly to West Virginia v. EPA by amending § 111 of the Clean Air Act.
With the stakes higher than ever and the midterm elections just around the corner, we ask that you register to vote (if you haven’t already), consider volunteering as a poll monitor, and research and campaign for or donate to science-forward candidates of your choice who will prioritize urgent issues such as climate change. You can consult our pocket guide on “Participating in Political Activities: Guidelines for Federally Employed and Federally Funded Scientists,” which helps scientists understand how to participate in political campaigns and elections, and what restrictions on political activity might affect them.
CSLDF would like to thank the Union of Concerned Scientists for its work in publishing this essential white paper. Thank you also to Liz Borkowski of the Jacobs Institute for Women’s Health and Martha Kinsella of the Brennan Center for Justice for their invaluable leadership and guidance at every step of this report. We would also like to thank Tom Sinks, Mekela Panditharatne, Victor Flatt, Stan Meiburg, and John Hannon.