In a devastating blow to the environment and people concerned about Our Climate Crisis, the United States Supreme Court released a ruling this week limiting the EPA’s (Department of Environmental Protection Agency) ability to regulate emissions from power plants that produce electricity. Approximately 61% of the US’s electricity is generated by burning fossil fuels, 19% is nuclear and 20% is renewable energy.

The Nixon administration created the EPA in 1970 to help protect our air, water and the rest of our living environment because it was clear industry would not do so on it’s own and Congress was ill equipped to become experts on yet one more matter.

An aerial photo from 1967 shows plumes of industrial waste flowing in the Cuyahoga River and emptying into Lake Erie. Courtesy

The Supreme Court’s decision is part of a push by conservatives to reduce the government’s regulation of businesses. In this case, they’ve decided that a 52-year-old agency created to focus on environmental issues was not equipped to be experts and create regulations to protect our air and water. The decision puts the burden of researching issues and creating regulations onto members of Congress who are not experts and oftentimes are influenced by the industries and lobbyists who pollute.

The implications of this decision will reduce the regulatory oversight of petroleum and coal-fired power plants, leading to greater carbon emissions and worsening Our Climate Crisis. In 2019, the New York Times did a story about how power producers were not meeting regulatory standards related to highly toxic methane emissions. These companies clearly are more concerned about their bottom line than the health of the planet.

Invisible methane gas escaping DCP Pegasus Gas Processing Plant in 2019. Courtesy New York Times

This decision also opens the door for other government watchdog agencies to lose their ability to regulate other kinds of harmful behaviors, giving businesses free reign to do as they see fit until Congress imposes regulations.

Here in Washington, we now get the majority of our electricity via hydropower, however there are issues even with this energy source as our water resources are becoming more limited as the result of the Climate Crisis, our increasing population, agricultural irrigation and electrical usage. With a push to remove the four Snake River dams to restore our salmon runs while also removing imported carbon emitting electrical generation like Puget Sound Energy’s Colstrip power plant in Montana, the need for renewable energy (wind, solar, geothermal, tidal) power rises dramatically.

The first table shows the electrical generation fuel mix for the entire US and the second focuses on Washington’s electrical mix.

Energy sourceBillion kWhShare of total
Total – all sources4,116
Fossil fuels (total)2,50460.8%
Natural gas1,57538.3%
Petroleum (total)190.5%
Petroleum liquids110.3%
Petroleum coke70.2%
Other gases3110.3%
Renewables (total)82620.1%
Solar (total)1152.8%
Solar thermal30.1%
Biomass (total)551.3%
Landfill gas100.2%
Municipal solid waste (biogenic)60.2%
Other biomass waste20.1%
Pumped storage hydropower4-5-0.1%
Other sources5120.3%
U.S. utility-scale electricity generation by source, amount, and share of total in 2021

Washington State’s energy mix relies heavily upon hydropower as shown in the following table but we still get some of our electricity from fossil fuels.

Fuel typeTotal electric power MWhShare of total
Natural gas12,617,52112.94%
Unspecified power11,015,64711.30%
Other biogenic37,2530.04%
Table 1: Washington electric utilities: Aggregate fuel mix 2020

While the Supreme Court dismantles our protections, individually, we still have the power to make an impact on our environment. It’s Puget Sound Solar’s mission to lead and enable the clean energy revolution and eliminate carbon emissions via helping customers with their solar, energy storage and electric vehicle charging station installations.

There are many ways for you to take action on Our Climate Crisis. Contact your elected officials, make changes in your life, like driving electric, going solar, not eating red meats, reduce your water and energy consumption. We did not get into Our Climate Crisis overnight or because of just one source of pollution. Our modern conveniences make our lives easier but they also pollute our planet. By simply making changes to how we heat our homes, produce our electricity and drive, we can individually reduce our carbon emissions.

You Make The Difference. We’re here to help.

Give us a call at 206-706-1931 or fill out or web form when you’re ready to see how solar can benefit you and the planet.