Academic journal article Vanderbilt Law Review

Blowing Hot Air: An Analysis of State Involvement in Greenhouse Gas Litigation

Academic journal article Vanderbilt Law Review

Blowing Hot Air: An Analysis of State Involvement in Greenhouse Gas Litigation

Article excerpt

Introduction ............................................................................. 190

I. Background .................................................................... 195

A. Brief Overview of the Greenhouse Gas Litigation ... 195

B. Theories of State Involvement in Environmental Litigation ............................................................... 203

1. State Environmental Interests .................... 203

2. General Welfare of State Citizens ............... 205

3. Public Opinion and Politics ......................... 207

C. Previous Work on Climate Attitudes and Geography .............................................................. 210

II. DATASET AND EMPIRICAL SPECIFICATION .......................... 212

A. Constructing the Dataset ........................................ 212

1. Climate Change Risk Measures .................. 213

2. Carbon Dioxide Emissions .......................... 214

3. Public Opinion ............................................ 215

4. Demographic Variables ............................... 216

5. Political Measures ....................................... 216

B. Empirical Specifications ........................................ 219

III. Results ........................................................................... 221

A. Choice to Intervene ................................................. 221

B. Picking Sides ......................................................... 222

IV. Discussion ....................................................................... 225

A. Politics as Usual: Now What? ................................ 225

1. Politics as . . . Politics ................................. 226

2. Politics as Public Opinion ........................... 228

3. Courts: Tread Carefully .............................. 231

B. State-Specific Analysis by the EPA ......................... 232

Conclusion ................................................................................ 236

Appendix .................................................................................... 238

INTRODUCTION

In Massachusetts v. EPA (2007), the U.S. Supreme Court interpreted the Clean Air Act ("CAA") to require the Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") to regulate greenhouse gas emissions1 from motor vehicles if the EPA Administrator finds that the emissions endanger public health and welfare ("Endangerment Finding").2 In December 2009, the Administrator made such an Endangerment Finding,3 obligating the EPA to work with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ("NHTSA") to develop average fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission standards for new light-duty vehicles. After issuing proposals and reviewing comments from the public, the two agencies announced their groundbreaking final regulation ('Tailpipe Rule") in May 20 10.4 The regulation of greenhouse gases from mobile sources under the CAA, however, triggered further greenhouse gas permit requirements for some stationary sources ("Triggering Interpretation").5 This prompted the EPA to finalize permitting rules tailored to greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources ("Tailoring Rule"),6 spawning legal challenges. This Note, at its heart, untangles the motivations behind an important group involved in this litigation: the states.

Industry groups, environmental groups, and states filed more than seventy lawsuits challenging or supporting at least one of the EPA's four actions, namely the Endangerment Finding, the Tailpipe Rule, the Triggering Interpretation, and the Tailoring Rule.7 Significantly, thirty-seven states have either directly filed lawsuits or requested to intervene in support of or against at least one of the four actions.8 These lawsuits have been consolidated into three cases before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ("D. …

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