The Case of the Term Goes Against the White House
Mark it down on your calendars. April 2, 2007. It is possible, and I write this with only a smidge of hyperbole, that this day will go down as a turning point in our nation's efforts to deal with global warming. Why? Because today is the day that the judicial branch (the Supreme Court) sided with the legislative branch (the Democratically-controlled Congress) against the executive branch (the Bush administration) in declaring that the White House's current policy and posture toward greenhouses gases simply does not match the commitment toward the regulation of such pollution that exists within our federal laws.
Here is how the Associated Press put it: The Supreme Court ordered the federal government on Monday to take a fresh look at regulating carbon dioxide emissions from cars, a rebuke to Bush administration policy on global warming. In a 5-4 decision, the court said the Clean Air Act gives the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to regulate the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from cars." As a result of the ruling, the EPA now will have to more fully justify its reasons NOT to regulate greenhouses gases-- something the White House has so far been unwilling to do. And don't forget that the new Democratic-controlled Congress can put even more pressure on the administration by changing the Clean Air Act to make it more explicit that greenhouses gases ought to be regulated.
It's the biggest decision of the term so far, by far, and the White House lost big. No spinmeisters ought to be able to convince you otherwise. And no amount of hand-wringing by the Court's most conservative members-- all in the minority in this case-- ought to diminish the scope of the legal victory won today by officials in the states who sued. Those officials, year after year, had the political courage and legal will to take on the big guys and win. How soon should we expect some concrete consequences? It depends. This case has been alive for four years now, four long years in which global warming has become more obvious and serious, but obviously this ruling will speed up the pace of progress. The courts now will keep a watchful eye on the EPA to see how quickly and well the Agency complies with this mandate-- and so of course will environmental groups.
Here is what the folks at the National Resources Defense Council said about their victory today: "After a four-year court battle, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled today 5-4 that carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping emissions are 'air pollutants' under the Clean Air Act, and that the U.S. government already has authority to start curbing them. The Supreme Court's decision, in Massachusetts v. EPA, repudiates the Bush administration's do-nothing policy on global warming. For years, the administration has denied carbon dioxide is an air pollutant that EPA can control under the Clean Air Act. 'Today the nation's highest court has set the White House straight. Carbon dioxide is an air pollutant, and the Clean Air Act gives EPA the power to start cutting the pollution from new vehicles that is wreaking havoc with our climate,' said David Doniger, NRDC's attorney in the case."
And here is what the folks at Earthjustice had to say: "Today is a great day for the environment. In one of the most important environmental cases of its history, the Supreme Court has reaffirmed what we have been saying all along: The Clean Air Act gives EPA authority to fight global warming. The EPA must act immediately and issue regulations that limit greenhouse gases from motor vehicles that contribute to global warming. While this case has worked its way through EPA and the courts, scientific evidence of global warming has continued to mount--so much so that the scientific debate is over. Our climate is warming, and pollution from human activities is a major cause. Harms include rising seas that submerge coastal lands, stronger hurricanes, more drought, melting ice caps and degraded ecosystems."
Earthjustice continued: "To combat this most urgent environmental crisis, strong and comprehensive U.S. action is crucial. EPA must use its existing Clean Air Act authority to require control of greenhouse gas emissions--by motor vehicles (the subject of this case) as well as by other sources like power plants. The Act has successfully cut emissions of many pollutants, and it can do the same for greenhouse gases. Congress should both hold EPA's feet to the fire and enact a national emissions cap that requires steep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and must also significantly tighten fuel economy standards for motor vehicles. Scientists have determined that to avoid the worst impacts of global warming we must cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050."
By Andrew Cohen |
April 2, 2007; 11:55 AM ET
Previous: Boldly (and Badly) Going Where no White House Has Gone Before | Next: The Supreme Court Trawl on Global Warming
Please email us to report offensive comments.
Posted by: H5N1 | April 2, 2007 02:03 PM
Posted by: Jane Hellawell | April 2, 2007 02:18 PM
Posted by: O.L. Sloaner | April 2, 2007 02:19 PM
Posted by: thebob.bob | April 2, 2007 02:21 PM
Posted by: frank collins | April 2, 2007 02:52 PM
Posted by: Stanley J. Suser | April 2, 2007 02:55 PM
Posted by: JL | April 2, 2007 03:01 PM
Posted by: rking | April 2, 2007 03:46 PM
Posted by: On the plantation | April 2, 2007 04:02 PM
Posted by: JTSpangler | April 2, 2007 04:05 PM
Posted by: | April 2, 2007 04:09 PM
Posted by: Coal Lover | April 2, 2007 04:23 PM
Posted by: Gary Masters | April 2, 2007 05:05 PM
Posted by: Gary Masters | April 2, 2007 05:07 PM
Posted by: Garak | April 2, 2007 06:20 PM
Posted by: Tom T. | April 2, 2007 06:22 PM
Posted by: GTexas | April 2, 2007 06:35 PM
Posted by: Dan Meyer | April 2, 2007 06:58 PM
Posted by: Michael | April 2, 2007 07:09 PM
Posted by: Robert James | April 2, 2007 09:08 PM
Posted by: May2002 | April 2, 2007 09:21 PM
Posted by: Wes | April 2, 2007 09:37 PM
Posted by: | April 2, 2007 10:05 PM
Posted by: Michael | April 2, 2007 10:10 PM
Posted by: Robert L | April 2, 2007 11:04 PM
Posted by: Chris Fox | April 2, 2007 11:51 PM
Posted by: | April 3, 2007 12:07 AM
Posted by: David | April 3, 2007 03:43 AM
Posted by: kk | April 3, 2007 06:03 AM
Posted by: Stanley Krute | April 3, 2007 08:00 AM
Posted by: Michael | April 3, 2007 12:23 PM
The comments to this entry are closed.