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Will courts allow technology to mitigate climate change? | The TechTank Podcast

Darrell M. West and
Darrell West, director and vice president of Governance Studies. 2/2017
Darrell M. West Senior Fellow, Governance Studies - The Brookings Institution
Barry G. Rabe

Monday, August 14, 2023


  • Federal courts have recently struck down environmental protection rules on grounds that agencies do not have the authority to ban disposable containers or use QR codes to monitor shipping
  • The decision by the DC Circuit of the US Court of Appeals said the EPA did not have the authority to use the latest technologies, which if upheld by the Supreme Court, would significantly hinder enforcement efforts
A participant is pictured in front of a screen projecting a world map during the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget, near Paris, France, December 8, 2015. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe  - LR1EBC80Y0ORX

Technology plays a crucial role in mitigating climate change. Monitoring equipment like digital sensors and QR tracking codes enables authorities to track disposable containers and ensure compliance with regulations regarding harmful hydro-fluorocarbons. However, a recent federal court decision challenging agencies’ use of such technology could hinder environmental protection efforts. 

In this episode, co-host Darrell West explores the ramifications of judicial constraints on executive agencies. Joining the conversation is Barry Rabe, a professor of political science and public policy at the University of Michigan and a nonresident senior fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution. Rabe is the author of “Court Limits Technology Use in Climate Protection Case.” Together, they discuss what the recent court decisions mean for new climate technologies, historical precedents on checks and balances, and the U.S. position as a leader in global trade and clean energy.  

Listen to the episode and more from the TechTank podcast on Apple, Spotify, or Acast.