Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The REAL issues at stake in Massachusetts v. EPA

Respecting the pros and cons of today's oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court in the closely-watched greenhouse gas case, "Massachusetts v. the Environmental Protection Agency," a major legal issue is "standing." For non-lawyers, the question is this: will federal courts be available to people with claims about damages cause by climate change? Are they equipped to deal with claims over how carbon emissions are speeding up global warming?

Whatever the legalities, one must ask how can the EPA all but ignore changes affected by greenhouse gas emissions? Perhaps more interesting: how can EPA maintain this posture overall while the widely-respected Energy Star and related initiatives at EPA and the U.S. Department of Energy spend so much time and resources focusing on -- guess what -- reducing carbon emissions?

Massachusetts has been joined by at least 11 other states, 13 environmental-advocacy groups and three states in arguing that EPA has shirked its responsibility and is ignoring the Clean Air Act. If anything, today's arguments and the resulting media coverage should help illuminate what can and should be done without the courts.

Here's a little-known fact: the case originates from an application over emissions by new passenger vehicles in 1999, while Bill Clinton was president.

What do you think?

greenhouse gases, Supreme Court, Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency, Energy Star, global warming, vehicle emissions, Department of Energy


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