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Monday, April 09, 2007


Global Warming and the Courts

Last Monday the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that the Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) has the power to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) and that they could not neglect the right for regulating greenhouse gases unless they could provide scientific basis for not regulating. The explanation from E.P.A. on why they had not regulated greenhouse gases was because the emissions from American cars were insignificant in the big picture. The court dismissed this explanation as inadequate. The decision does not force the E.P.A. to regulate CO2, but would most likely face more legal action if it does not. The dissent delivered by Chief Justice Roberts said that the Court should have never given the plaintiffs standing to sue and that it lowers the requirements for standing.
I agree with Chief Justice Roberts. I am not sure how the plaintiffs passed the three prong standing test. To be granted standing you must prove: first that injury was sustained; second that the injury was caused by the action in question; and third it is likely that the outcome will favor the injured party. How did the state of Massachusetts prove that injury was sustained? Justice Stevens said it met the requirements because global warming was raising the see level along its coast, if the government did something then harm would be reduced. I don't believe this is enough to prove the first two parts of the test. It sounds ridiculous to me that justice Stevens and the other five in the majority would agree with him. The rising sea level could be because of other countries failing to regulate greenhouse gases. I also don't think that the Clean Air Act that was passed in 1963 had anything to do with regulating CO2 from cars, but rather combating smog in cities. I think that the Court has overstepped its constitutional boundaries. The President and congress should be passing legislation to combat the effects of greenhouse gases not the Court. Even at a state level Massachusetts could better control how much CO2 they want to emit with harder emissions test. The E.P.A. can not hold full responsibility. California, for instance, has stricter emissions for regulating CO2 than the federal government. Massachusetts could do the same if they were really worried about their rising coast line.

And, perhaps you might ask yourself: What enumerated power of Congress says Congress has the power to regulate emissions from automobiles in the first place?

Or what power does Congress have to pass laws in an effort to keep sea levels from rising?
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