Supreme Court Ruling is Bad News for Birds and Everyone Else, Too

The court's ruling in the West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency case limits our ability to respond to the climate crisis and could have other serious implications.

WASHINGTON - “This ruling by the Supreme Court directly threatens our ability to protect birds, people, and the places we need,” said Marshall Johnson, chief conservation officer, National Audubon Society. “Birds are telling us that the climate is changing and more action is needed. Stripping agencies like the EPA of their ability to respond to these real and urgent threats puts our communities, birds, and other wildlife at greater risk.” 

In a 6-3 ruling the United States Supreme Court today severely curtailed the ability of the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate carbon pollution and respond to the threat of climate change. The case in question pertained to a rule no longer in effect and offers an unprecedented “advisory ruling” on future regulatory action by the agency. Today’s ruling could also be interpreted to limit the ability of other federal agencies to issue and enforce similar regulations. 

“The EPA must be able to regulate and enforce guidelines to conserve our natural resources and ensure that we all have clean water to drink and fresh air to breathe,” said Johnson.  

Since 1967, North America’s bird populations have dropped by nearly 30 percent and climate change is only making this problem worse. New Audubon science shows that two-thirds of bird species face the threat of extinction if nothing is done to reduce carbon pollution.  

The implications of this ruling could go well beyond carbon pollution by potentially limiting the ability of federal agencies to respond to clear and present threats to wildlife and people. It could even undermine our nation’s bedrock environmental laws like the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act.  

"Fifty years ago, Congress responded to the urgent health and environmental threats facing our communities with a suite of bipartisan laws that serve as the bedrock of our nation’s environmental protections,” said Johnson. “This ruling makes the responsibility of this Congress just as serious. It must respond to what birds, people, and science tell us about the threats we face by strengthening and reinforcing these laws and the ability of federal agencies to enforce them.”  




Media Contact: Matt Smelser, 


About Audubon 

The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow, throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon's state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon's vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more how to help at and follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @audubonsociety.