Response to Supreme Court’s West Virginia v. EPA Ruling

The Supreme Court’s recent ruling in the case of West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency is a grave loss for climate protection. State and local efforts like IREC’s are now even more important.

Dear IREC friends and supporters, 

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in the case of West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, I’m reaching out to share some thoughts on the implications of this development for the critical work of fighting climate change, and in particular, the work of the Interstate Renewable Energy Council. 

The Court’s decision to severely limit the EPA’s power to regulate power plant emissions at the federal level is a grave loss—even more so given the critical importance of the next few years in limiting carbon emissions while there is still time to curb the worst impacts of climate change. More troubling is the application of the “major questions doctrine,” which undermines the ability of federal agencies to interpret and implement the details laws from Congress, if those interpretations are deemed to have significant social or economic impacts. By creating great uncertainty regarding what authority federal agencies have, the decision undermines other efforts to promote clean energy and fight climate change. 

This is a deeply disheartening blow that threatens the well-being of all residents of our rapidly warming planet. In this context, the work IREC is doing to speed the transition to clean energy at the state and local levels is now more critical than ever. Moreover, our strategic pathways—regulatory engagement, workforce development, and strengthening local capacity—remain powerful avenues for change, unencumbered by today’s decision. 

IREC’s state regulatory program is advancing favorable regulations for clean energy at the state level that will be essential to enabling a rapid transition to clean energy. In 2021 alone, we contributed to improved rules in 11 states. These included improved interconnection policies that help clean energy projects connect to the grid more quickly and efficiently.

IREC’s local initiatives team is helping communities lead the way on the clean energy transition, reducing permitting barriers and providing technical assistance to support community-based initiatives that accelerate the use of clean energy. For example, the Sustainable Energy Action Committee has engaged over 1000 professionals to improve the codes and standards that affect clean energy installations. 

And our workforce program is helping to build the pathways into clean energy jobs that will enable the industries to grow at the pace they will need to in order to meet market demands and state clean energy goals. The National Clean Energy Workforce Alliance has engaged nearly 500 organizations to align on solutions to build the clean energy workforce of the future.

The road to a 100% clean energy future is a long and hard one, and this decision makes the path harder. Yet IREC’s resolve to build the foundation for a 100% clean energy future is stronger than ever. I hope you will join us in this work by engaging with IREC’s state and local programs. We have several exciting upcoming events, including:

In solidarity, 
Larry Sherwood 
IREC President & CEO