The Battleground Broadens ; LEADING ARTICLE ++ CLIMATE CHANGE
One of the most important environmental cases in years will today come before the United States Supreme Court. In Massachusetts vs the Environmental Protection Agency, an alliance of American states will contend that the Federal Clean Air Act compels the EPA to consider greenhouse gases as pollutants. If successful, this would require the EPA to regulate the emissions of motor vehicles, something it has been resisting for a number of years.
There would seem to be a strong case against the EPA. The Clean Air Act states that the EPA shall set standards for "any air pollutant" that "may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare". Carbon emissions surely fit perfectly into this category. The EPA argues that the individual states have no legal standing because they cannot show that they will be specifically harmed by the agency's failure to regulate greenhouse gases. But the science has progressed. The evidence that climate change will gravely affect all of us on the planet is now overwhelming.
Yet it is still difficult to see this individual case coming to anything. Even if the court rules against the EPA, the agency would still be left to decide on how to go about controlling emissions. While it remains in such a state of denial over the threat posed by climate change, there is little hope that it would rigorously enforce its new powers. …