US Supreme Court takes up Obama vs. RI case todayApril 19th, 2011 at 9:54 am by Ted Nesi under Nesi's Notes
Rhode Island is one of the states that joined Connecticut in accusing the EPA of failing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and suing to force five major power companies to cut emissions. Republican governors in New Jersey and Wisconsin pulled their states out of the suit after they took office.
The Obama administration has sided with EPA and the power plants, not the states, and the seven-year-old dispute will go before the high court today, The Associated Press reports:
The [Obama] administration is siding with American Electric Power Co. and three other companies in urging the high court to throw out the lawsuit on grounds the Environmental Protection Agency, not a federal court, is the proper authority to make rules about climate change. The justices will hear arguments in the case Tuesday.
The court is taking up a climate change case for the second time in four years. In 2007, the court declared that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are air pollutants under the Clean Air Act. By a 5-4 vote, the justices said the EPA has the authority to regulate those emissions from new cars and trucks under that landmark law. The same reasoning applies to power plants.
The administration says one reason to end the current suit is that the EPA is considering rules that would reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. But the administration also acknowledges that it is not certain that limits will be imposed. …
When the suit was filed in 2004, it looked like the only way to force action on global warming. The Bush administration and the Republicans in charge of Congress doubted the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases. …
Federal courts long have been active in disputes over pollution. But those cases typically have involved a power plant or sewage treatment plant that was causing some identifiable harm to people, and property downwind or downstream of the polluting plant.
Global warming, by its very name, suggests a more complex problem. The power companies argue that any solution must be comprehensive. No court-ordered change alone would have any effect on climate change, the companies say.
(photo: Steve Petteway/Supreme Court, via Wikipedia)