Friday, December 01, 2006

Supreme Judicial Judgement

I check in periodically with Chris Mooney at Intersection on Science Blogs. He is now picking on poor old justice Scalia and his performance in the recent hearing on the question of whether the EPA has the authority to, or is compelled to, set standards for CO2 emissions under the Clean Air Act.

JUSTICE SCALIA: Mr. Milkey, I had -- my problem is precisely on the impermissible grounds. To be sure, carbon dioxide is a pollutant, and it can be an air pollutant. If we fill this room with carbon dioxide, it could be an air pollutant that endangers health. But I always thought an air pollutant was something different from a stratospheric pollutant, and your claim here is not that the pollution of what we normally call "air" is endangering health. That isn't, that isn't -- your assertion is that after the pollutant leaves the air and goes up into the stratosphere it is contributing to global warming.

MR. MILKEY: Respectfully, Your Honor, it is not the stratosphere. It's the troposphere.

JUSTICE SCALIA: Troposphere, whatever. I told you before I'm not a scientist.


JUSTICE SCALIA: That's why I don't want to have to deal with global warming, to tell you the truth
Mooney is not the only one to have trouble with this. Carl Pope also commented this week.
The important issue is not whether EPA must, or only can, regulate greenhouse pollutants-- what's also being decided here is whether the states can regulate global warming pollution themselves. If EPA can regulate CO2, then so can California and other states -- so their right to set emission standards for CO2 from motor vehicles would be protected as long as the Supreme Court concedes that CO2 is a pollutant. And the real reason the Bush Administration has fought against admitting that CO2 is a pollutant is its desire to block state action to clean up vehicle emissions.
So, in all of this, where is the Green Party? I don't see much going on. The Green Issues Working Group in CA has no one at the present time to function as a Coordinator for Ecology & Earth Stewardship. Maybe it not all that important for most. It were we would be doing some of the following:
  • Taking a public policy position in support of the current law suit.
  • Establishing an ongoing contact with the California Department of Resources.
  • Identifying a list of the top envioronmental issues in California with CO2 and methane emissions near the top.
  • Developing a close working relationship with the non-profits that are doing much of the advocacy work.
Anyone got another idea? I want to hear it.

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