Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Bush v Gore II

Yale Press

Today, the Supreme Court hears the case on whether or not carbon dioxide should be considered a pollutant by the EPA.

Here is part of the story

9:21 am: Opening arguments under way
in Supreme Court global warming case
By Mark Sherman
Associated Press
November 29, 2006

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court stepped gingerly into the U.S. debate over global warming on Wednesday, asking how much harm would occur if the government's Environmental Protection Agency continues its refusal to regulate greenhouse gases from new vehicles.

In the first case about global warming to reach the high court, a lawyer for 12 states and 13 environmental groups pressed the justices to make the government act, saying the country faces grave environmental harm.

Inaction is like lighting "a fuse on a bomb," said James Milkey, an assistant attorney general for the state of Massachusetts.Opening up an hour of arguments, Justice Antonin Scalia asked, "When is the predicted cataclysm?"

It's not cataclysmic, but rather "ongoing harm," Milkey replied.

Chief Justice John Roberts pointed out that regulating carbon dioxide emissions from new vehicles addresses just one aspect of an issue of global dimensions.

The argument by those pushing for EPA action on vehicle emissions might or might not be valid, but it "assumes everything else is going to remain constant," Roberts observed.

Several justices questioned whether the states and environmental groups have met their legal burden to show they will be harmed by continued EPA inaction. Petitioners to courts must meet that threshold before the merits of a case may be addressed.

The Bush administration argued in court papers that the EPA lacks the power to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act. Even if it had such authority, the EPA still would not use it at this point because of uncertainty surrounding the issue of global warming, the administration said.

Global climate change is "a controversial phenomenon that is far from fully understood or defined," trade associations for car and truck makers and automobile dealers said in a court filing signed by former government lawyers Theodore Olson and Kenneth Starr. They backed the administration position.

Twelve states, mainly along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, three cities, a U.S. territory and 13 environmental groups are arguing that the EPA ignored the clear language of the Clean Air Act. Under the 1970 law, carbon dioxide is an air pollutant that threatens public health and the EPA must regulate it, they said.


The court's decision could have far-reaching effects.

A separate case involving the EPA's claim that the Clean Air Act similarly does not give it authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants also is making its way through the federal courts.

Michigan, home of the U.S. auto industry, and eight other states are backing the EPA."

Now you may remember that Theodore Olson represented Bush before the Supreme Court in the famous case in the 2000 election. And how could you forget Kenneth Starr?

It is pretty clear to me that the uncertainties about climate change and its effects are its economic impacts, its severity, its time scale, and if we can meaningfully slow it down and adapt to it or not. The issue of CO2 and whether or not it is a pollutant is neo nonsense. Olson will say that CO2 is essential to life and harmless. Water is essential to life too, but too much of it is called a flood and big floods destroy everything.

If there was ever a sequel to the Bush V Gore , this is it.

Just as Teachers turn down 50,000 free copies of an Inconvenient Truth, the Supreme Court must face its own inconvenient truth.

Will they be political minions or will they sort out the facts

as the fair judges they were appointed to be?

Or will the Spring Tide roll over their memories

and erase their relevence forever?

I bet on the latter.

But hope for the better.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post, pivotal case. Do you know if the transcripts/in-depth reporting of the trail are availible to the public?

5:20 PM  
Blogger oZ said...

Here is the address for the supremes...

If you google supreme court transcripts, you get several other sites.

6:43 AM  
Blogger oZ said...

I made some changes to the uncertainy paragraph on Thursday morning.

There are many uncertainties about climate change. Whether or not it is happening, and the human contribution to it are just not in that category.

6:57 AM  

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