Feeds

Supreme Court rules on EPA's bad case of gas

Massachusetts to become Waterworld

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Hippies have successfully harshed the US government's mellow by telling the Feds to get to work.

A 5-4 Supreme Court decision today in Massachusetts v EPA rules the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to issue regulations aimed at reducing global climate change. The EPA was unsuccessful convincing the court such actions exceed its authority. The court's ruling stands as a major blow to the Bush administration.

The decision was split between the court's liberal and conservative judges, with Justice Anthony Kenndey providing the swing vote.

Starched shirts in 12 states lead by Massachusetts and 14 environmental groups first filed suit in 2003 claiming the EPA has avoided its responsibility given to the agency under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases. Massachusetts alleged that rising sea levels caused by global warming have caused and will continue to cause harm to the state.

The majority's decision written by Justice John Stevens determined the complaint is valid. "The risk of catastrophic harm, though remote, is nevertheless real. That risk would be reduced to some extent if petitioners received the relief they seek."

The ruling, however, merely orders the agency to "reconsider" its position on regulations. Whether the decision has any teeth is yet to be determined.

Under the microscope is section 202 of the act which states:

The [EPA] Administrator shall by regulation prescribe (and from time to time revise) in accordance with the provisions of this section, standards applicable to the emissions of any air pollutant from any class or classes of new motor vehicles or new motor vehicle engines, which in his judgment cause, or contribute to, air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare...

The EPA had argued that because regulating greenhouse gases would have major economic and political repercussions Congress would have told them to act upon it specifically if the agency was supposed to address it.

EPA followed that greenhouse gases should not even be considered "air pollutants." It reasoned that if carbon dioxide were an air pollutant, the only way to reduce tailpipe emissions would be increasing fuel economy — which has already been addressed by Congress — making any action superfluous.

Finally, the EPA argued that a link between greenhouse gases and global warming "cannot be unequivocally established."

Despite this argument, a Register investigation into the EPA Kids page (hey, balloons and clowns make things easier to understand) reveals a different story.

"When Do You Send Greenhouse Gases into the Air?

Whenever you...

  • Watch TV
  • Use the Air Conditioner
  • Turn on a Light
  • Use a Hair Dryer
  • Ride a Car
  • ... you are helping to send greenhouse gas into the air."

It continues to teach children:

...if the greenhouse effect becomes stronger, it could make the Earth warmer than usual. Even a little extra warming may cause problems for humans, plants, and animals.

Ten states and six automobile trade groups sided with EPA in the case.

The court's dissenting opinion largely weighed the validly of Massachusetts's claims of damage in loss of coastal land.

"The realities make it pure conjecture," wrote Chief Justice John Roberts, "to suppose that EPA regulation of new automobile emissions will likely prevent the loss of Massachusetts coastal land." ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Simon's says quantum computing will work
Boffins blast algorithm with half a dozen qubits
LIFE, JIM? Comet probot lander found 'ORGANICS' on far-off iceball
That's it for God, then – if Comet 67P has got complex molecules
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
How to simplify SSL certificate management
Simple steps to take control of SSL certificates across the enterprise, and recommendations centralizing certificate management throughout their lifecycle.