Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Last comments on the Mass v. EPA case

*Dumbest anti-environment post, by Chris Horner at Planet Gore: "atmospheric concentrations go way, way up, and way, way down, naturally, such that it is a truism that Man cannot reverse or control, but only contribute at the margins to, concentrations." He's gone beyond climate denialism to CO2 denialism, and he claims to have filed briefs on the case. With opponents like this, we're all set.

*Smartest anti-environmental poster: Jonathan Adler. He's been on a tear with multiple posts since the decision came out. Although he's on the wrong side with the wrong conclusions, his facts are right, as is much of his analysis and all of his admissions against the interests of his side.

*In the December 2 hearing, we had this exchange:
JUSTICE STEVENS: I find it interesting that the scientists whose worked on that report said there were a good many omissions that would have indicated that there wasn't nearly the uncertainty that the agency described.
MR. GARRE: Your Honor, if you are referring to the amicus brief, Your Honor, there are -- assuming there are amicus briefs on the other side. The Ballunas amicus brief -- I think it is fair for the Court to look at, to look at the document that the agency had before it. That -- that document produced by the National Research -- Research Council, that's the research arm of the National Academy of Sciences. And it's one of the gold standards of research.
JUSTICE STEVENS: But in their selective quotations, they left out parts that indicated there was far less uncertainty than the agency purported to find.
Seems like the brief by the scientists made a difference, looking at the final opinion written by Stevens. Roger Pielke Jr., by contrast, wrote last fall: "I do think it is a bit disingenuous of a few of the scientists who have publicly stated that they are focused not on advocacy but correcting the scientific record. Lets be clear, taking sides and participating in a court case is not about science; it is about politics."

*I agree with the consensus that the EPA will be virtually forced to issue regulations by this decision. I disagree with comments that it won't happen during the current administration - I think it could if the Bushies decide they really want it to happen during their term, for better or for worse.

*I think the Bush Administration has some political room now to walk away from their "no regulation" position, but the questions remains whether they'll walk away, get dragged away, or just decide to stall it out for the next president.

*Worst case but plausibly-legal scenario is the EPA issues regulatory caps that function in name only, say a cap set at 50% greater than 2009 vehicular emissions. They could argue this stops backsliding from exceeding a certain level, while leaving the president sufficient room to negotiate a better deal with foreign countries. Not sure how courts would react to the inevitable challenges.

*Issuing Clean Air Act waivers for the California vehicle emissions law (and other states) could happen soon. I don't know enough about this field to make a judgment as to how ironclad the enviro legal arguments are, but this could turn out to be the most important effect of the decision.

*Interesting new blog, Warming Law: "The Warming Law blog is a place for people who write about, think about, or wonder about how the third branch of government, the judiciary, is addressing one of the most urgent environmental issues of our time." I'll add it to my blogroll.

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