Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Carbon Dioxide--Bad? EPA: Nah...


We learned in my natural resources class that national agencies that sound like they exist to protect the environment sometimes have a funny way of showing it. For example, the National Forest Service. National Forests are great, right? Let's protect them. Or, let's be the biggest road-building and timber harvesting arm of the federal government.

So I guess maybe it's not surprising that the EPA--that would be the Environmental Protection Agency, kind of hard to screw that one up--is currently arguing in a lawsuit against a slew of states and cities that it can refuse to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from new motor vehicles. This agency view won out at the appellate level, and the Supreme Court is taking up the issue this morning.

I fully understand the argument that federal agencies, as an arm of the executive branch, can be vehicles for policy that can change from administration to administration. But regulating CO2 emissions on new cars? Come on. How can that still be questioned?

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uh, agencies can't just implement national regulatory policy when there's a scientific consensus that it's a good idea. The EPA's authority is defined in a statute, and the interpretation of that statute is what's at issue.

There are also the threshold justiciability issues, which are legitimate and might well end the case.

11/29/2006 11:01 AM  
Blogger Luis Villa said...

The EPA's authority is defined in a statute, and the interpretation of that statute is what's at issue.
You're right. And there is no really plausible way to interpret the statute so as to preclude carbon dioxide regulation, since it explicily commands the EPA to regulate air pollution. Which is why it'll (likely) conveniently get decided on the justiciability issues, instead of actually ruling on the societally important issue. Very good discussion of the issue here.

11/29/2006 11:38 AM  

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