Supreme Court Rules EPA Can Regulate

Aging Earth
  Aging Earth                                http://AgingEarth.com

More Aging Earth Headlines >> 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13 - 14 - 15 - 16 - 17 - 18 - 19 - 20 - 21 - 22 - 23 - 24 - 25 - 26 - 27 - Aging Earth Home

    Supreme Court Rules EPA Can Regulate

       
    April 2007 - The Bush administration 
    failed to follow the requirements of the Clean Air Act when it 
    refused to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from motor 
    vehicles, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled today. The 5-4 decision 
    in Massachusetts v EPA orders the administration to reconsider 
    its decision, a move that could result in the first nationwide 
    regulations aimed at tackling emissions linked to global 
    warming. 
    "EPA can no longer hide behind the fiction that it lacks any 
    regulatory authority to address the problem of global 
    warming," said Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley. 
    "The agency cannot refuse to use its existing authority to 
    regulate dangerous substances simply because it disagrees that 
    such regulation would be a good idea." 
    Although the ruling only forces EPA to reconsider whether it 
    should set greenhouse gas emission standards for new cars and 
    trucks, Coakley said, it would be difficult for the agency "to 
    refuse such regulation once it applies legally permissible 
    factors." 
    Justice John Paul Stevens, appointed to the bench
     by President 
    Gerald Ford in 1975, wrote the majority opinion stating that 
    EPA has the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
     White House spokeswoman Dana Perino told reporters the 
    administration was reviewing the decision, which she said was 
    about a legal question, not about policy. 
    "Now the Supreme Court has settled that matter for us, and 
    we're going to have to take a look and analyze it and see 
    where we go from there," Perino said. 
    The dispute stretches back to 1999, when environmentalists 
    filed a petition calling on EPA to regulate greenhouse gas 
    emissions from motor vehicles. 
    The Bush administration denied the petition in 2003, claiming 
    carbon dioxide is not a pollutant under the Clean Air Act and 
    that EPA lacked authority under the statute to impose 
    regulations. In addition, the administration said that even if 
    EPA had such authority, the agency would not set greenhouse 
    gas emission standards for new vehicles because of scientific 
    uncertainty and conflicts with the administration's policy of 
    voluntary programs. 
    A dozen states and 13 environmental groups filed suit 
    challenging the decision. Ten states and several automobile 
    trade groups sided with EPA in the dispute. 
    The Supreme Court's review of the case centered on two 
    critical issues - whether the states had standing to pursue 
    the lawsuit and the scope of EPA's authority under the Clean 
    Air Act. 
    The majority determined that Massachusetts, the lead 
    plaintiff, had standing because sufficient scientific evidence 
    shows the state faces harm from rising sea levels caused by 
    global warming. 
    "The risk of catastrophic harm, though remote, is nevertheless 
    real," Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the majority.
     "That 
    risk would be reduced to some extent if petitioners received 
    the relief they seek." 
    The administration argued against standing, contending that 
    Massachusetts was unlikely to get relief from rising sea 
    levels if EPA regulated greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. 
    motor vehicles because global warming is the result of 
    emissions from across the world. 
    Passenger cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles account for 
    nearly 30 percent of the nation's greenhouse gas emissions.
     "Its argument rests on the erroneous assumption that a small 
    incremental step, because it is incremental, can never be 
    attacked in a federal judicial forum," Stevens wrote.
     "Yet 
    accepting that premise would doom most challenges to 
    regulatory action. Agencies, like legislatures, do not 
    generally resolve massive problems in one fell regulatory 
    swoop." 
    The majority said it had "little trouble" rejecting the 
    administration's argument that the Clean Air Act did not 
    provide EPA the authority to regulate greenhouse gas 
    emissions. 
    Greenhouse gases are pollutants under the law, Stevens said, 
    and EPA's "alternative basis for its decision - that even if 
    it has statutory authority to regulate greenhouse gases, it 
    would be unwise to do so at this time - rests on reasoning 
    divorced from the statutory text." 
    The law explicitly states that EPA can avoid regulations only 
    if it determines that greenhouse gases do not contribute to 
    climate change or if it provides some reasonable explanation 
    as to why it cannot or will not exercise its discretion to 
    determine whether they do, according to the majority. 
    EPA has done neither, Steven wrote, and instead "has offered a 
    laundry list of reasons not to regulate." 
    Those reasons, including existence of voluntary programs to 
    address greenhouse gas emissions and foreign policy 
    considerations, have nothing to do with the requirements of 
    the Clean Air Act, the court said. 
    "EPA has offered no reasoned explanation for its refusal to 
    decide whether greenhouse gases cause or contribute to climate 
    change," wrote Stevens, who was joined in the majority with 
    Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Anthony Kennedy 
    and David Souter. 
    The four conservative members of the court dissented, largely 
    on grounds of whether the states had standing in the case. 
    "The realities make it pure conjecture to suppose that EPA 
    regulation of new automobile emissions will likely prevent the 
    loss of Massachusetts coastal land," Chief Justice John 
    Roberts wrote in his dissent. 
    The goals of the plaintiffs "may be more symbolic than 
    anything else," Roberts wrote. "The constitutional role of the 
    courts, however is to decide concrete cases - not serve as a 
    convenient forum for policy debates." 
    Justice Antonin Scalia wrote his own dissent, saying the court 
    had "no business substituting is own desired outcome for the 
    reasoned judgment of the responsible agency." 
    Environmentalists hailed the decision as a turning point for 
    U.S. global warming policy - the case is the first centered on 
    global warming heard by the court. 
    "The prospect that EPA will act under today's Clean Air Act 
    may light a fire under some industries that have been standing 
    in the way," said David Doniger, NRDC's attorney in the case. 
    "We've now broken a major legal logjam on this issue, and this 
    will be the year that the political logjam is broken, too." 
    The decision could also have significant implications on other 
    related cases, in particular a lawsuit filed by automakers 
    seeking to block a California law that puts limits on 
    greenhouse gas emissions from cars. The law, currently subject 
    to a temporary injunction, has been adopted by nine other 
    states. 
    "The Bush administration should immediately give California 
    and other states the green light to put their clean cars 
    programs into effect," said Amy Figdor of the U.S. Public 
    Interest Research Group. "Any delay is completely unjustified 
    given today's ruling." 
    


    More Aging Earth Headlines >> 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13 - 14 - 15 - 16 - 17 - 18 - 19 - 20 - 21 - 22 - 23 - 24 - 25 - 26 - 27 - Aging Earth Home

    AGING EARTH HOME

    © 2009; Aging Earth .com
    Powered by WorldsLargestNetwork.com