Saturday, September 16, 2006

Global Warming Debuts on Supreme Court Docket

Global Warming Debuts on Supreme Court Docket
September 12, 2006
By Roddy Scheer

For the first time in history, the U.S. Supreme Court has decided to
take up a case on global warming. This latest version of the lawsuit
(Massachusetts v. EPA) was filed by a coalition of states, cities and
environmental groups in an effort to force the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) to set mandatory limits for greenhouse gases
emitted from automobiles. The first iteration of the lawsuit originated
in U.S. District Court back in the summer of 2003, but subsequent
conflicting judgments mean that its trip to the Supreme Court later
this year or in early 2007 will represent the case's third and final
opportunity to mandate car emissions limits.
At issue is whether the EPA is shirking its responsibility under the
Clean Air Act to protect Americans from dangerous amounts of emissions
that could “reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or
welfare.” The crux of the issue, then, is whether EPA officials--and
now Supreme Court justices--consider carbon dioxide and other
greenhouse gases to be serious threats to the health and well-being of
Americans. Massachusetts and its long list of co-petitioners (see
below) cite hundreds of studies linking greenhouse gas emissions to
droughts and flooding throughout the U.S., as well as myriad other

EPA lawyers counter that the health impacts of climate change are
uncertain and that there’s no way to differentiate between the effects
of human activity and natural climatic cycles. Meanwhile, the Bush
administration has refused to mandate any greenhouse gas emission curbs
due to the impact it would have on the U.S. economy.

Given the right-leaning nature of the Supreme Court these days,
environmentalists aren’t optimistic.



At 1:47 PM, Blogger Michael T. Burr said...

>>Given the right-leaning nature of the Supreme Court these days,
environmentalists aren’t optimistic.<<

This may be accurate, but two points worth considering:
1) If the Supreme Court felt the case didn't warrant a closer look, it could have let stand the appeals-court ruling, which essentially killed the states' case.
2) If the court comes down on the side of EPA, it might well send Congress a strong message that the area needs its attention.

No court case will accomplish what "environmentalists" want to see in terms of regulation anyway.


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