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A prominent climate-change expert says the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in favor of efforts to curb global warming was a classic example of judicial activism. He feels the court’s decision, which allows environmental groups to sue the Environmental Protection Agency for refusing to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from new vehicles, is not only a threat to the auto industry but also to the future of the American economy.
The Supreme Court has ruled that carbon dioxide and other "greenhouse gases" are air pollutants under the Clean Air Act. In its 5-4 ruling, the high court held that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate so-called greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles.
Myron Ebell, director of energy and global warming policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, says the ruling has no immediate practical implications, but rather has political ones. "This Supreme Court decision," he explains, "now will cause many people in business and industry — many of whom have been calling for global warming legislation anyway because they hope to get rich off of it by raising energy prices — many of them now who have been opposed will say, ’Well, we need to short-circuit the EPA process, and we need Congress to give us some kind of system to regulate emissions that we can actually live with, not some crazy thing dreamed up by EPA."
Before this ruling, Ebell asserts, it was going to be difficult for the Democrat-led Congress to pass comprehensive legislation that limits energy use, raises energy prices, and rations energy. But now, he says, the Supreme Court has fueled the efforts of those who are pushing for mandatory caps on carbon emissions.
According to the Competitive Enterprise Institute official, the high court’s liberal justices have bought into the politically correct hype surrounding global warming and have "vastly expanded" the regulatory powers of the executive branch. "They decided what the outcome should be, and then they figured out what legal reasoning they could cobble together to get that outcome," he asserts. "And I think that’s the opposite of what legal reasoning should be."
Ideally, legal reasoning "should follow the best arguments for what the law is and then let the outcome be determined by that," Ebell contends. "But I think they did it just the opposite way, and they got the politically correct conclusion," he says.
In rendering their decision, Ebell adds, the Supreme Court justices have basically said Congress did not know that by passing the Clean Air Act it was giving the EPA regulatory authority over everything in the air — or, as dissenting Justice Antonin Scalia put it, "anything from frisbies to flatulence."
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