Monday, April 13, 2015

Global Warming Induced Climate Change Is A Matter of Law

Downtown Tomorrow
The federal courts have a line of cases that make global warming induced climate change one of the, if not the, major ongoing types of litigation in our judicial system (health care is another).

A case in the Federal Appeals Court for the District of Columbia illustrates the point.

By way of background, in 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could regulate green house gases (GHG), including carbon dioxide (CO2).

Not only that, the Supreme Court ruled that the EPA must do so as a matter of federal statutory law (in other words EPA has no discretion to not regulate GHG).

In a case containing one of the most odd of circumstances, it was the EPA that had been a climate change denier, siding with neoCon T-Bagger denier types in the lower courts:
Based on respected scientific opinion that a well-documented rise in global temperatures and attendant climatological and environmental changes have resulted from a significant increase in the atmospheric concentration of “greenhouse gases,” a group of private organizations petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to begin regulating the emissions of four such gases, including carbon dioxide, under §202(a)(1) of the Clean Air Act, which requires that the EPA “shall by regulation prescribe . . . standards applicable to the emission of any air pollutant from any class . . . of new motor vehicles . . . which in [the EPA Administrator’s] judgment cause[s], or contribute[s] to, air pollution . . . reasonably . . . anticipated to endanger public health or welfare,” 42 U. S. C. §7521(a)(1). The Act defines “air pollutant” to include “any air pollution agent . . . , including any physical, chemical . . . substance . . . emitted into . . . the ambient air.” §7602(g). EPA ultimately denied the petition, reasoning that (1) the Act does not authorize it to issue mandatory regulations to address global climate change, and (2) even if it had the authority to set greenhouse gas emission standards, it would have been unwise to do so at that time because a causal link between greenhouse gases and the increase in global surface air temperatures was not unequivocally established.
Massachusetts and other state and local governments, sought review in the D. C. Circuit [... which held...] that the EPA Administrator properly exercised his discretion in denying the rulemaking petition.
[Supreme Court Conclusion:] The judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
(Massachusetts v. EPA, 127 S. Ct. 1438 (2007), emphasis added). The Supreme Court disagreed with the EPA and the Federal Appeals Court for the District of Columbia.

It reversed the decision, holding that among other things:
The harms associated with climate change are serious and well recognized. The Government’s own objective assessment of the relevant science and a strong consensus among qualified experts indicate that global warming threatens, inter alia, a precipitate rise in sea levels, severe and irreversible changes to natural ecosystems, a significant reduction in winter snowpack with direct and important economic consequences, and increases in the spread of disease and the ferocity of weather events.
(ibid, emphasis added). Regular readers know that Dredd Blog has addressed the threats of "precipitate rise in sea levels" which constitute a greater danger to national security than terrorism does (New Climate Catastrophe Policy: Triage - 12, The IPCC Record on Global Warming Temperature Projections - 2, The Evolution of Models - 4).

Anyway, on remand from the Supreme Court, EPA regulations were advanced, and Oil-Qaeda quickly filed more lawsuits to challenge them:
In the latest court ruling on climate change, the federal court of appeals in Washington refused to block clean air safeguards that cut dangerous carbon pollution from the biggest new power plants and other industrial facilities.

The court on Friday rejected industry efforts to block Clean Air Act permit provisions that require large new industrial facilities to use the "best available" pollution controls for heat-trapping carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases.

The ruling means that industries building big new power plants and other industrial facilities will continue to be required to install and use modern, state-of-the-art pollution controls to curb their climate-changing pollution, just as they must for other kinds of dangerous air pollution.
(Court Rejects Latest Industry Ploy, emphasis added). It is the law of the United States that climate change is real, and that it is really dangerous.

The congress acted to pass The Clean Air Act, the Supreme Court upheld it, the President emphasized the point:
And no challenge -- no challenge -- poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.

2014 was the planet’s warmest year on record. Now, one year doesn’t make a trend, but this does: 14 of the 15 warmest years on record have all fallen in the first 15 years of this century.

I’ve heard some folks try to dodge the evidence by saying they’re not scientists; that we don’t have enough information to act. Well, I’m not a scientist, either. But you know what, I know a lot of really good scientists at NASA, and at NOAA, and at our major universities. And the best scientists in the world are all telling us that our activities are changing the climate, and if we don’t act forcefully, we’ll continue to see rising oceans, longer, hotter heat waves, dangerous droughts and floods, and massive disruptions that can trigger greater migration and conflict and hunger around the globe. The Pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security. We should act like it.
(SOTU Transcript, emphasis added). The new crop of neoCon T-Baggers do not know the law or the science, so they listen to the Apostle of Agnotology, Senator "God Is In Cliimate Change" Inhofe.

With outlaw Republican global warming induced climate change deniers at the helm, we are going to run hard aground on the rocks and reefs of reality, then sink like a stone into ignorant darkness.

The next post in this series is here.


  1. The demented deniers think that CO2 is god's gift to the Earth.

    Perhaps they should go into an air tight enclosure, fill it with CO2, then spend their last moments there.

    Same with water.

    Absolutism has perverted them.

  2. The big corporations bestow large amounts of money on politicians and regulators - often sending "one of their own" to head up a former 'watchdog' agency - in short, they find a way around any and all laws and regulations, from Dick Cheney's secret meeting with the energy execs during Bush II by-passing the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, to many other examples of "insiders" heading up agencies that were supposed to regulate the companies they came from. This is what bothers me - there are two sets of rules and laws - one for the common people and a different set for the big corporations and banks.


    1. Tom,

      The case I cited came down A.C. (after Energy Czar Cheney) not BC (before Energy Czar Cheney).

      The decisions of the Supreme Court are the law of the land.

      Technically, there are two sets of enforcement, not two sets of law.

      What you are getting at is "immunity," which means no enforcement of the law against those who are immune (Follow The Immunity - 3, Sovereign Impunity: A Child of the Supreme People).

      There is only one set of law about the EPA and regulating CO2, however, where there is immunity there is no enforcement of that one law.

      But I get your drift.

      The end result is the same.