can’t see the forest

US Supreme Court to Hear Global Warming Case Today

From CBS-5, San Francisco:

(CBS 5 / BCN) California has always been on the cutting edge when it comes to auto emissions. We’ve had tougher laws than the other states, to the point where cars bought elsewhere had to be brought up to California emission standards. Now, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether California’s tough standards will live or die.

“California has already taken bold steps to curb global warming pollution. But its authority to do so comes from the clean air act, so one outcome of this case is that the supreme court could take away California’s power to regulate carbon dioxide pollution,” explained Sierra Club spokesman Eric Antebi. “But it also could bolster California’s case by forcing the Federal Government to become a partner with california and a dozen other states in attacking the global warming problem.”

So California and 11 other states have joined with 13 environmental groups to force the issue before the Supreme Court.

“This is a landmark global warming case,” said Moira Chapin of Environment California. “What’s at issue is California’s ability to regulate tailpipe emissions from cars and light trucks and the ability of other states to do the same thing.”

The Supreme Court will essentially decide whether the EPA can regulate the carbon dioxide that comes from auto emissions…

In this first-ever Supreme Court case pertaining to greenhouse emissions, The Environmental Protection Agency seeks to establish the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions as a matter outside of the territory covered by its statutes: what, me worry?

States such as California and Massachusetts would like to see greenhouse levels federally regulated. At issue is the interpretation of a passage in the Clean Air Act requiring the regulation of “any air pollutant” from vehicles. It will be the task of the court to determine whether or not carbon dioxide emissions can be classified as pollutants in this regard.

While the states would like to see the issue federalized, in an extreme scenario, the ability of these states to independently regulate greenhouse emissions could be placed at risk. US automakers say that tough state standards can make it difficult to sell SUVs and other less efficient vehicles in those markets. Environmentalists and state governments say it’s time for the judiciary to take a firm stand on pressuring the White House and Congress to hold polluters accountable despite the economic risks.

Many states and municipalities took up at least some of the standards imposed by the Kyoto Protocol after the Bush administration refused to sign that treaty shortly after entering office.

The United States is responsible for about 25% of human greenhouse emissions globally, while its population represents a much smaller fraction of the Earth’s populace. This case could ultimately affect the ability of corporations to treat the “right to pollute” as a commodity, de-externalizing at least some of the costs of unchecked greenhouse emissions. The State of California is seeking reparations for its increased efforts to combat the environmental effects attributed by an overwhelming majority of the scientific community to the burning of fossil fuels.

The high court is expected to rule on the case by the end of June.


2 Responses

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  1. zilla said, on 12/1/06 at 7:46 am

    This issue was being discussed on NPR yesterday morning. Ten minutes into it, I found myself grinding my teeth. I just want to shake so many people — not cartoon people snowboarding in snowglobes, because I felt bad about making them scream. So, yeah, worried. And frustrated. And I just want to shake people.

  2. Curtis said, on 12/1/06 at 12:43 pm

    Generally, shaking creates the molecular movement associated with warmth—could be a lesson of value!

    No, z, I don’t mean to make light of your frustration at all. I know it’s terribly frustrating. My feeling on the issue, as succinctly as I can express it, is this: we should be as careful as possible with the only planet we have. Why that philosophy is so difficult to actualize is a large issue in itself.

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