US Supreme Court Limits EPA in Curbing Power Plant Emissions

In a blow to the fight against climate change, the Supreme Court on Thursday limited how the nation’s main anti-air pollution law can be used to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.

By a 6-3 vote, with conservatives in the majority, the court said that the Clean Air Act does not give the Environmental Protection Agency broad authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants that contribute to global warming.

The court’s ruling could complicate the administration’s plans to combat climate change. Its proposal to regulate power plant emissions is expected by the end of the year.

President Joe Biden aims to cut the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions in half by the end of the decade and to have an emissions-free power sector by 2035. Power plants account for roughly 30% of carbon dioxide output.

The justices heard arguments in the case on the same day that a United Nations panel’s report warned that the effects of climate change are about to get much worse, likely making the world sicker, hungrier, poorer and more dangerous in the coming years.

The power plant case has a long and complicated history that begins with the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. That plan would have required states to reduce emissions from the generation of electricity, mainly by shifting away from coal-fired plants.

But that plan never took effect. Acting in a lawsuit filed by West Virginia and others, the Supreme Court blocked it in 2016 by a 5-4 vote, with conservatives in the majority.

With the plan on hold, the legal fight over it continued. But after President Donald Trump took office, the EPA repealed the Obama-era plan. The agency argued that its authority to reduce carbon emissions was limited and it devised a new plan that sharply reduced the federal government’s role in the issue.

New York, 21 other mainly Democratic states, the District of Columbia and some of the nation’s largest cities sued over the Trump plan. The federal appeals court in Washington ruled against both the repeal and the new plan, and its decision left nothing in effect while the new administration drafted a new policy.

Adding to the unusual nature of the high court’s involvement, the reductions sought in the Obama plan by 2030 already have been achieved through the market-driven closure of hundreds of coal plants.

Power plant operators serving 40 million people called on the court to preserve the companies’ flexibility to reduce emissions while maintaining reliable service. Prominent businesses that include Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Tesla also backed the administration.

Nineteen mostly Republican-led states and coal companies led the fight at the Supreme Court against broad EPA authority to regulate carbon output.

your ad here

read more

Native Americans Bristle at Suggestions They Offer Abortions on Tribal Land

Shortly after the leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion to end women’s constitutional right to abortion, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt appeared on Fox News suggesting Native American tribes in his state, looking to get around Oklahoma’s tough new abortion ban, might “set up abortion on demand” on any of the 39 Indian reservations in that state.

“You know, the tribes in Oklahoma are super liberal,” Stitt said, “They go to Washington, D.C. They talk to President (Joe) Biden at the White House. They kind of adopt those strategies.”

The U.S. government recognizes tribes as sovereign nations, and as such, have the right to pass their own laws regulating abortion on tribal land, subject to certain limitations.

Stitt’s comments set off wide speculation in the press and in social media about whether abortion seekers could turn to Indian tribes for abortion services in states where the procedure is or soon will be banned now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned.

 

Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have called on the White House to open up federal land and resources to provide reproductive health services. Neither lawmaker referenced Indian reservations, nor have tribes suggested any interest in opening abortion havens.

“It’s been journalists. It’s been activists looking for some sort of a solution,” said Stacy Leeds, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma and a law professor at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law in Arizona. “And now in the last couple of days, it has started to escalate, with politicians almost warning tribes that they better not do this.”

Tuesday, the White House ruled out the possibility of using federal lands for abortion services.

But that hasn’t stopped the conversation in social media.

 

 

It is a conversation, however, that most Native Americans find problematic, if not downright offensive.

“Any time there’s a call for tribes to do something that is not originating in their own thought processes, it very much just reeks of further colonization,” said Leeds. “You know, the outsider trying to tell a local tribal government what their law and policy ought to be.”

Native Americans find the conversation particularly upsetting given a well-documented history of sexual violence against Indigenous women that ranged from rape and trafficking to forced sterilizations in the 1970s.

“And you also have this history of the wholesale removal of Native children away from their families and communities to boarding schools or being adopted out to other communities. It’s just traumatic for a lot of people,” Leeds said.

 

In its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, the Supreme Court decriminalized abortion, but that didn’t guarantee all women had access. The 1976 Hyde Amendment, which was amended several times in later years, prohibits federal money being used to pay for abortions except in cases of rape, incest or endangerment to the woman’s life. The Indian Health Service relies on federal funds and is the only health care provider available for many Native communities.

To look to tribes for abortion services is to assume Native Americans are a left-leaning monolith, Leeds said.

“Politically, (Native) people are all over the place. You know, it’s a large leap to just automatically presume that everybody would want this,” she said. “And a lot of tribal spiritual traditions hold life as sacred from beginning to the end.”

In 2010, for example, the Navajo Nation Supreme Court ruled on a case involving the death of an unborn fetus in a highway collision, saying, “We take judicial notice that the child, even the unborn child, occupies a space in Navajo culture that can best be described as holy or sacred, although neither of these words convey the child’s status accurately. The child is awę́ę́ t’áá’íídą́ą́’hiną́, alive at conception, and develops perfectly in the care of the mother.”

Native Americans have been given few opportunities to voice their opinions on abortion. One exception is a 2020 study by the Southwest Women’s Law Center and the nonprofit Forward Together that surveyed Native American women on and off reservations in New Mexico — a state where abortions remain legal and available, even after the recent Supreme Court ruling.

When asked whether they would support or oppose a law that would criminalize doctors performing abortions, 45% of respondents said they would oppose it; 25% said they would support it, and 27% said they did not have a strong opinion one way or the other.

“Most of the Native women who are speaking out nationally are upset about the Supreme Court’s latest decision,” Leeds said. “But I don’t see any of them advocating that their communities then become the saviors of everyone else’s communities.”

 

Tribes are sovereign nations and have the right to pass their own laws regulating abortion on tribal land territories. But criminal jurisdiction in Indian Country is complex; whether tribal governments, state governments or the federal government has jurisdiction depends on the nature of the crime, the identity of the perpetrator and victim, and where the crime takes place.

In theory, tribes could perform abortions, said Leeds, but only in tribally funded facilities on Native patients by Native practitioners. Anyone else could be subject to state or federal law.

“And that’s the galling piece of this whole conversation,” Leeds said. “You want tribes to take this risk for you that might negatively impact their whole world indefinitely? People just don’t understand what they are truly asking.”

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that Oklahoma will be allowed to prosecute non-Native Americans for crimes committed on reservations when the victim is Native, a decision that cuts back on the court’s 2020 ruling that a large chunk of eastern Oklahoma — about 43% of the state — remains an Indian reservation.

 

Stitt celebrated the decision.

“Today, our efforts proved worthwhile, and the court upheld that Indian country is part of a state, not separate from it,” Stitt said.

Oklahoma in May passed the Nation’s toughest abortion ban. Wednesday’s ruling reduces the likelihood of any tribal abortion haven in that state.

your ad here

read more

Jackson to be Sworn in as Breyer Retires From Supreme Court

Nearly three months after she won confirmation to the Supreme Court, Ketanji Brown Jackson is officially becoming a justice.

Jackson, 51, will be sworn as the court’s 116th justice Thursday, just as the man she is replacing, Justice Stephen Breyer, retires.

The judicial pas de deux is set to take place at noon, the moment Breyer said in a letter to President Joe Biden on Wednesday that his retirement will take effect after nearly 28 years on the nation’s highest court.

The court is expected to issue its final opinions earlier Thursday in a momentous and rancorous term that included overturning Roe v. Wade’s guarantee of the right to an abortion. The remaining cases are a challenge to the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate climate-warming emissions from power plants, and Biden’s bid to end the Trump-era “remain in Mexico” asylum program.

In a ceremony the court said it will stream live on its website, Jackson will recite two oaths required of Supreme Court justices, one administered by Breyer and the other by Chief Justice John Roberts.

Jackson, a federal judge since 2013, will be the first Black woman to serve as a justice. She will be joining three women, Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Amy Coney Barrett — the first time four women will serve together on the nine-member court.

Biden nominated Jackson in February, a month after Breyer, 83, announced he would retire at the end of the court’s term, assuming his successor had been confirmed. Breyer’s earlier-than-usual announcement and the condition he attached was a recognition of the Democrats’ tenuous hold on the Senate in an era of hyper-partisanship, especially surrounding federal judgeships.

The Senate confirmed Jackson’s nomination in early April, by a 53-47 mostly party-line vote that included support from three Republicans.

She has been in a sort of judicial limbo ever since, remaining a judge on the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., but not hearing any cases. Biden elevated her to that court from the district judgeship to which she was appointed by President Barack Obama.

Jackson will be able to begin work immediately, but the court will have just finished the bulk of its work until the fall, apart from emergency appeals that occasionally arise. That will give her time to settle in and familiarize herself with the roughly two dozen cases the court already has agreed to hear starting in October as well as hundreds of appeals that will pile up over the summer.

your ad here

read more

Instagram Hides Some Posts That Mention Abortion

Instagram is blocking posts that mention abortion from public view, in some cases requiring its users to confirm their age before letting them view posts that offer up information about the procedure. 

Over the last day, several Instagram accounts run by abortion rights advocacy groups have found their posts or stories hidden with a warning that described the posts as “sensitive content.” Instagram said it was working to fix the problem Tuesday, describing it as a bug. 

In one example, Instagram covered a post on a page with more than 25,000 followers that shared text reading: “Abortion in America How You Can Help.” The post went on to encourage followers to donate money to abortion organizations and to protest the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to strip constitutional protections for abortion. 

The post was covered with a warning from Instagram, reading “This photo may contain graphic or violent content.” 

Instagram’s latest snafu follows an Associated Press report that Facebook and Instagram were deleting posts that offered to mail abortion pills to women living in states that now ban abortion procedures. The tech platforms said they were deleting the posts because they violated policies against selling or gifting certain products, including pharmaceuticals, drugs and firearms. 

Yet, the AP’s review found that similar posts offering to mail a gun or marijuana were not removed by Facebook. The company did not respond to questions about the discrepancy. 

Berlin photographer Zoe Noble runs the Instagram page whose post referencing abortion was blocked for viewing. The page, which celebrates women who decide not to have children, has been live for over a year. Monday was the first time a post mentioning abortion was restricted by Instagram, although Noble has mentioned it many times before. 

“I was really confused because we’ve never had this happen before, and we’ve talked about abortion before,” Noble said. “I was really shocked that the word abortion seemed to be flagged.” 

The platform offers no way for users to dispute the restriction. 

The AP identified nearly a dozen other posts that mentioned the word “abortion” and were subsequently covered up by Instagram. All of the posts were informational in nature, and none of the posts featured photos of abortions. An Instagram post by an AP reporter that asked people if they were experiencing the problem was also covered by the company on Tuesday and required users to enter their age in order to view it. 

The AP inquired about the problem on Tuesday morning. Hours later, Instagram’s communication department acknowledged the problem on Twitter, describing it as a glitch. A spokesman for Instagram-owner Meta Platforms Inc. said in an email that the company does not place age restrictions around its abortion content. 

“We’re hearing that people around the world are seeing our ‘sensitivity screens,’ on many different types of content when they shouldn’t be. We’re looking into this bug and working on a fix now,” the company tweeted. 

Tech companies like Meta can hide details about how posts or keywords have been promoted or hidden from view, said Brooke Erin Duffy, a professor at Cornell University who studies social media. 

“This can all take place behind the scenes, and it can be attributed to a glitch,” Duffy said. “We don’t know what happened. That’s what’s chilling about this.

your ad here

read more

January 6 Panel Subpoenas Former White House Counsel

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection issued a subpoena Wednesday to former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, who is said to have stridently warned against former President Donald Trump’s efforts to try to overturn his election loss.

It’s the first public step the committee has taken since receiving the public testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson, the onetime junior aide who accused Trump of knowing his supporters were armed on Jan. 6 and demanding that he be taken to the U.S. Capitol that day.

Cipollone, who was Trump’s top White House lawyer, is said to have raised concerns about the former president’s efforts to overturn his 2020 election defeat and at one point threatened to resign. The committee said he could have information about several efforts by Trump allies to subvert the Electoral College, from organizing so-called alternate electors in states Biden won to trying to appoint as attorney general a loyalist who pushed false theories of voter fraud.

Cipollone has been placed in key moments after the election by Hutchinson as well as by former Justice Department lawyers who appeared for a hearing the week before.

Hutchinson said Cipollone warned before Jan. 6 that there would be “serious legal concerns” if Trump went to the Capitol with the protesters expected to rally outside.

The morning of Jan. 6, she testified, Cipollone restated his concerns that if Trump did go to the Capitol to try to intervene in the certification of the election, “we’re going to get charged with every crime imaginable.”

And as the insurrection went on, she says she heard Meadows tell Cipollone that Trump was sympathetic to rioters wanting to hang then-Vice President Mike Pence.

“You heard it,” Meadows told Cipollone, in her recollection. “He thinks Mike deserves it. He doesn’t think they’re doing anything wrong.”

Reps. Bennie Thompson, a Democrat, and Liz Cheney, a Republican, the chairman and vice chairman of the committee, said in their letter to Cipollone that while he had given the committee an “informal interview” on April 13, his refusal to provide on-the-record testimony made their subpoena necessary.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Republican who sits on the committee, said last week that Cipollone told the committee he tried to intervene when he heard Trump was being advised by Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official who wanted to push false claims of voter fraud. Federal agents recently seized Clark’s cell phone and conducted a search of his Virginia home.

Clark had drafted a letter for key swing states that was never sent but would have falsely claimed the department had discovered troubling irregularities in the election. Cipollone was quoted by one witness as having told Trump the letter was a “murder-suicide pact.”

your ad here

read more

Fears of Cholera Outbreak Surface in Ukraine

As Russia pounds Ukrainian cities to rubble, water and sewer systems have broken down in some places. The British Defense Ministry says Mariupol is at risk of a major cholera outbreak. Just how big the threat is, though, is not clear. Scientists disagree over where the strains of cholera that can cause a major outbreak come from, and whether they are present in Ukraine currently. Producer:  Steve Baragona

your ad here

read more