The N.Y. Times Clears the Air

The Times as a forceful editorial today about pending legislative efforts to block EPA’s climate regulations and other air pollution regulations:

Congress’s failure to enact a climate bill means that the E.P.A.’s authority to regulate these gases — an authority conferred by a landmark Supreme Court decision in 2007 — is, for now, the only tool available to the federal government to combat global warming.

The modest regulations the agency has already proposed, plus stronger ones it will issue later this year, should lead to the retirement of many of the nation’s older, dirtier coal-fired power plants and a dramatic reduction in carbon emissions. . . .

In his State of the Union address, President Obama promised to protect “common-sense safeguards” to the nation’s environment. The rules under siege in Congress will help clean the air, reduce toxic pollution in fish and slow emissions of greenhouse gases. It is hard to imagine anything more sensible than that.

My only quarrel would be with the statement that EPA’s jurisdiction over greenhouse gases was “conferred” by the Supreme Court in 2007.  Not so — the authority was conferred by Congress in 1970 when it directed EPA to regulate any substance in the air that might threaten public health or welfare.  In 2007, the Supreme Court held that the statute meant what it said — over the dissent of four Justices who purportedly believe in following statutory language strictly, except when it leads them to unpalatable results.

Speaking of the media, ABC recently ran an excellent  segment tracing the connection between climate change and aberrant weather such as recent flooding in Australia.  Despite the chorus of ideological and often industry-driven jeering, perhaps the scientific facts will begin to penetrate.

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About Dan

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

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