The primary list of pollutants identified, and for which acceptable levels were set, was: sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide (both major components of smog), particulates (such as coal dust), carbon monoxide, ozone, and lead. But in the sweepstakes to control industrial production, those were real pikers. The power-hungry enablers in the Federal government have now awarded environmentalists the PowerBall jackpot to end all jackpots. In April 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that the EPA has the authority under the CAA to (and must) regulate CO2 emissions. (PDF)
Among other legal technicalities, the case could only be heard if the plaintiffs had standing. As the SCOTUS decision explains:
To demonstrate standing, a litigant must show that it has suffered a concrete and particularized injury that is either actual or imminent, that the injury is fairly traceable to the defendant, and that a favorable decision will likely redress that injury.Given the scientific evidence to date, no one could possibly satisfy these criteria. The Court held otherwise. Read the syllabus yourself if you happen to be interested in their convoluted reasoning
One reason they held otherwise is not at all convoluted. It's simply false, or (more accurately) not known to be true: "The harms associated with climate change are serious and well recognized." Not to put too fine a point on it, bull.
Unless they meant something like an Ice Age or the elimination of the atmosphere (as might have occurred on Mars millions of years ago), the statement is just silly. Every time the climate changes in my neck of the woods — like from summer to winter — I'm at risk for serious harm. Somehow, I don't think this is what the Fearsome Five justices had in mind.
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.This is the problem with politicized science. Not only are the statements here not known to be true, there is ample evidence that they are all false.
Sea levels rise and fall, but they've been rising gradually on average ever since the ending of the last Ice Age (about 400 feet over the past 20,000 years, or a quarter inch per year). Current measurements show they're not doing so now in any significant way, and certainly not to a degree that is serious. According to the National Center for Policy Analysis during the Clinton Administration and the IPCC, not exactly hostile to environmentalism:
Coming out of the Ice Age, sea levels rose at an annual rate varying from 1/16 to 8/16 inches [see the table]. Over the last 7,500 years the rate has averaged 1/16 inch per year. The most recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) noted that there is no evidence of an acceleration in the rate of sea level rise over the past century.[ibid]The bit about "natural ecosystems" doesn't even qualify as false, since it's practically meaningless. How much is severe? How could — short of a scenario as may have happened on Venus — the changes be irreversible? Even if it were true, why should we care very much unless we're dependent on those ecosystems?
The Court doesn't specify where this reducing snowpack is. I can assure them it ain't in Idaho. Last year we had double the normal snowfall, the largest amount in the past 50 years. To move away from anecdotal evidence, the ice pack near at least one of the poles is much larger. In Antarctica, it's been increasing for 30 years, by 0.11 ± 0.05 million sq. km per decade. (PDF)
There is no evidence strong enough to justify the claims that disease is increasing, nor that weather events are becoming more ferocious, nor are they linked to alleged global warming. Quite the reverse.
The Justices need to spend less time watching Al Gore documentaries and more time encouraging their assistants to look at the actual scientific literature. But then, facts aren't driving their decisions.
To the contrary, all this is to show (just as when the Feds clamped down on the use of DDT when it was known — by the judge deciding the case — that it was harmless) that science has nothing to do with the decision. The Fearsome Five on the Supreme Court simply want to hand the EPA the power to regulate CO2 emissions (even when the EPA themselves don't want it) and that's what they were determined to do.
As Scalia wrote in dissent: [The Court] "has no business substituting its own desired outcome for the reasoned judgment of the responsible agency."
Surpassing all human understanding, not even the EPA wants this power. Here's a quote from the ANPR (Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking) of the EPA itself (pg 5):
One point is clear: the potential regulation of greenhouse gases under any portion of the Clean Air Act could result in an unprecedented expansion of EPA authority that would have a profound effect on virtually every sector of the economy and touch every household in the land."It invariably sounds like hyperbole, but the plain fact is this makes the EPA the de-facto ruler of nearly all business in America. Think that's an exaggeration? Re-read the bolded portion of the quote.
Here's another quote, this time from comments to the ANPR from the Department of Agriculture :
"[M]any of the emissions are the result of natural biological processes that are as old as agriculture itself. For instance, technology does not currently exist to prevent the methane produced by enteric fermentation [cow farts] associated with the digestive processes in cows and the cultivation of rice crops; the nitrous oxide produced from the tillage of soils used to grow crops; and the carbon dioxide produced by soil and animal agricultural respiratory processes. The only means of controlling such emissions would be through limiting production, which would result in decreased food supply and radical changes in human diets." (ANPR pp. 66-67) [emphasis added]Stuff this hot, not even the not-normally squeamish Feds want to touch. Get set for things to heat up more when the not-at-all squeamish new Administration arrives in late January.