Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Supreme Court To Hear EPA Auto Emissions Regulation Case

The Supreme Court will hear a case today brought by Massachusetts and 11 other states that contend the federal Environmental Protection Agency has ignored its legal responsibility to set limits on car and truck emissions, which scientists say are among the leading contributors to global warming. ...

Both sides agree that the case will put what is arguably the country's most important environmental issue in the hands of the high court, say state officials and environmentalists. It also could jump-start the deadlocked federal debate on climate change. ...

At issue is the interpretation of Section 202 of the Clean Air Act, a law that gives the federal government the power to control sources of air pollution. Environmentalists have alleged that the Bush administration has systematically tried to weaken the act to benefit polluters.

The section in question states that the federal government must regulate "any air pollutant" that can "reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare."

The states and the environmentalists say the EPA, as the chief enforcer of the Clean Air Act, is clearly responsible for regulating carbon dioxide emissions. Because cars, trucks, and power plants are the biggest producers of those emissions, they argue, the EPA must step in, set, and enforce pollution limits.

But the EPA, backed by the White House, said it is improper to regulate greenhouse gas emissions without a better understanding about global warming. The administration points to a study by the National Research Council , which advises the White House on scientific issues. The study concludes that any link between greenhouse gas emissions and global warming "cannot be unequivocally established."

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