Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Supreme Court Takes on Global Warming

The Supreme Court will hear arguments this week in a case that addresses the questions of:

"Whether the EPA Administrator has authority to regulate carbon dioxide and other air pollutants associated with climate change under [the Clean Air Act]"


"whether the EPA Administrator may decline to issue emission standards for motor vehicles based on policy considerations not enumerated in [the Clean Air Act]"

As I understand it, the basic issue is whether the 1970 Clean Air Act covers air pollution from carbon dioxide, which is thought to lead to global warming (and was clearly not in the minds of the legislators at the time because no one thought there was global warming back then). The Supreme Court has to determine whether carbon dioxide is covered by the terms of the statute.

To me, this seems like an awful way to make policy. The better way to determine whether Congress wants carbon dioxide covered is to have Congress legislate on the matter now. Don't ask the Supreme Court to apply legislation drafted in1970 to a 1990s issue. Sure, they can make up an answer, but it's going to be very unsatisfying reasoning whichever way it comes out.

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