Thursday, November 30, 2006

Global Warming Heats Up SCOTUS

Justices' First Brush With Global Warming

Published: November 30, 2006

WASHINGTON, Nov. 29 — A Supreme Court argument Wednesday on the Bush administration’s refusal to regulate carbon dioxide in automobile emissions offered three intertwined plot lines to the audience that had come to watch the court’s first encounter with the issue of global climate change.

On one level, the argument was about the meaning of the Clean Air Act, which the Environmental Protection Agency maintains does not treat carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases as air pollutants and thus does not give the agency the authority to regulate them.

On another level, the argument was about whether the dozen states, three cities and many environmental groups that went to federal court to challenge the agency’s position had legal standing to pursue their lawsuit.

And on still another level, the courtroom action was an episode in a policy debate that began well before this case arrived on the Supreme Court’s docket and that will continue, in the political sphere, no matter what the justices decide.

By the end of the argument, that continuing debate appeared the only certain outcome.
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