PROGRESS on environmental issues and concerns is incremental at best. Protecting the air, land and sea for future generations depends on actions taken now.

Cleaner air and water is a much-desired legacy to bequeath to those who will occupy the planet and live, work and raise families.

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court put qualifications on the power of the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and factories, but did not preclude the EPA’s enforcement of them.

The Obama administration is looking to reduce carbon pollution from power plants, and give states a chance to look at local and regional options. The authority for the federal action is the Clean Air Act, with key amendments in the 1970s and 1990s.

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A divided court said the EPA did not have complete autonomy from Congress, and warned the administration that not every enforcement plan was automatic under the Clean Air Act.

Work to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from existing power plants by 2030 was not undone. In a separate vote, the court strongly affirmed the EPA’s authority over regulation of other pollutants, beyond greenhouse-gas emissions.

In the same spirit of looking ahead, the Obama administration announced plans to expand the existing Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument.

The national monument, created by President George W. Bush, limits fishing and drilling around remote islands between Hawaii and American Samoa.

Ocean conservation is a vital subject, even in distant areas where the protections, for now, can be seen as symbolic. As award-winning reporting by The Seattle Times has shown, the issue of ocean acidification is a looming threat to ocean life and the food chain.

A massive Pacific Ocean preserve looks ahead. The same goes for promoting economic incentives to curb carbon emissions from power plants.

Both efforts contribute to a stronger, healthier planet for future generations.

Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Sharon Pian Chan, Lance Dickie, Jonathan Martin, Erik Smith, Thanh Tan, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).