Gutting the EPA…All in the Family

Tuesday, July 05, 2022
Neil Gorsuch and his Mother Anne Gorsuch (photo:

Many people seem shocked that the Republican-controlled Supreme Court, in the case of West Virginia et al v. Environmental Protection Agency et al, limited the power of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to oversee polluting industries unless Congress gives the EPA specific instructions to do so.


Naturally the Supreme Court majority presented their decision in legalese and words of judicial philosophy, but it is worth noting that two of the justices who voted to limit the authority of the EPA have family connections that favor the oil and gas industry that most benefited from the ruling.


Neil Gorsuch’s mother, Anne Gorsuch, was the head of the EPA from May 1981 until she was forced to resign in March 1983. During her tenure, she reduced the EPA’s budget by 22%, reduced the number of cases filed against alleged polluters and hired industry-friendly staff to regulate the companies they were supposed to oversee. In 1982 she was caught holding back $6 million in federal funds to clean up a toxic waste site near Los Angeles because she didn’t want to help the Senate campaign of former California Governor Jerry Brown. She was cited for contempt of Congress when she refused to turn over documents related to the case, and she was forced to resign. Like mother, like son.


Amy Coney Barrett’s father, Michael Coney, was an attorney for the oil company Royal Dutch Shell for 29 years and chairman of The American Petroleum Institute (API) Subcommittee of Exploration and Production Law. The API is the trade and lobbying organization for the oil and natural gas industry. Like father, like daughter.


As for Samuel Alito, for years he was required to recuse himself from cases involving Exxon Mobil because he owned stock in the company. But in 2016 he sold the stock and was free to rule as he wished to help the oil and natural gas industry.

-David Wallechinsky


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