Posted by: bklunk | April 14, 2007

Pacific’s Tony Kennedy Provides the Swing Vote

Stuff like this almost makes me wish I had gone to law school. 

The Supreme Court Rules! « Global Climate Change Blog

April 10th, 2007
Supreme Court Greenhouse Gas Decision Extends Beyond the Tailpipe

“The United States Supreme Court, on April 2, 2007, ruled in Massachusetts, et. al. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency , 549 U.S. ___ (2007) that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are air pollutants and may be regulated in new motor vehicles by EPA…Traditionally, in order for a party to maintain a suit in federal court a litigant must demonstrate that it has: (1) suffered a concrete, and particularized injury that is either actual or imminent, (2) that the injury is fairly traceable to the defendant, (3) that a favorable decision will redress that injury….The majority…concluded that Massachusetts did satisfy Article III standing requirements. With respect to concrete harm/injury, the Court found that Massachusetts had demonstrated that its coastal lands were being impacted by rising seas. As to causation, the Court noted that EPA did not dispute the connection between man-made GHG emissions and global warming, and therefore that “at minimum, . . EPA’s refusal to regulate such emissions ‘contributes’ to Massachussetts’ injury.” With respect to redressability, the Court stated that the relief sought by Massachusetts – regulation of GHG emissions from new motor vehicles – need not relieve every injury suffered. Rather, the majority concluded that it is enough that the relief sought will at least reduce the risk by slowing the pace of GHG emissions.“

This decision expands the category of regulatable emissions to include greenhouse gases. While most of the newsbytes relating to the decision have focused on tailpipe emissions, regulation of automobiles will not be the only result. The door is now open for the regulation of industrial GHG emissions.

The fact that the potential risk of loss of Massachusetts coastline was held as an imminent, concrete and particularized injury opens the door for all sorts of interesting arguments. The second and third standards seem to be even bigger streches. The percentage of worldwide GHG produced by American automobiles is between 3-5%.

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  1. I think it’s great that something is being decided to help the problem of GHG. However, we’ve been contributing these harmful gases so long it may be cutting it close to ever improving. I understand in the past that to prove there was a problem that required regulation someone needed to prove who and what was actually causing the problem. The EPA needed to be able to trace it. Now we know all gas emitted is harmful and something needs to change.

    I think all governments should start to cut back on the gases we release, whether it be from cars or industries. I’m surprised to see that just American automobiles contribute to almost 5% of the GHG released. That’s just one nation. My class discussed this last semester when I took American Public Policy. We were discussing the environment and how the Americans don’t always consider it. We discussed how most of us want to be independent; have big cars and big houses, it’s the believed and wanted ‘American dream.’ Both of these things release a lot of gas into the air.

    I know this concern started with the emission from cars, but if they are releasing a lot into the air, just think what industries release. Some of them are running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Something really needs to be regulated there. The government or the EPA need to make sure they make the appropriate changes to emit gas into the atmosphere that will not hurt the Earth.

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