Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Global Warming and the Supreme Court [UPDATED]
The Court heard arguments this morning in Massachussetts v. EPA, in which several states are claiming the EPA should be regulating carbon dioxide emissions. *If* the Court decides the states even have standing to bring this suit. Then they will get to the business of whether CO2 counts as a pollutant. That should get interesting. I'm hoping they won't just punt over the standing issue. Lucky for us, the transcripts are available quickly these days. So we may be able to read the argument as early as this afternoon. I'll post highlights if so.

SCOTUSblog has a nice preview:
Because there may be no more challenging environmental and energy issue now than global climate change, this case has been viewed widely as a breakthrough opportunity to force a significant and immediate response by a federal government that has seemed to critics to be unpersuaded that global warming is a genuine threat. But, as briefing in the case was completed, it also became a potentially historic case on the use of judicial power to compel the political branches to deal with a phenomenon that affects the entire globe.
But whose fault is this really? George Bush's. As a candidate in 2000, W promised to require lower carbon emissions as President, a pledge he broke as soon as he took office, leaving Christine Todd Whitman (then head of his EPA) out to dry after she negotiated an international agreement, not knowing her boss would bow to the oil industry and back out of his promise.

I don't know how to deal with the issue of standing - it's too complicated for my wee brain. But I know this: in passing the Clean Air Act, Congress intended to require the EPA to regulate pollutants.
The Administrator shall by regulation prescribe (and from time to time revise) in accordance with the provisions of this section, standards applicable to the emission of any air pollutant from any class or classes of new motor vehicles or new motor vehicle engines, which in his judgment cause, or contribute to, air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.
[UPDATE: Short version of SCOTUSBlog's analysis: it's all about Kennedy. The transcript of the argument is here (pdf). I haven't had a chance to read it yet. If you do, put your thoughts in the comments.]

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