Suing the EPA — the Politics, the Law

By December 21, 2007Energy, Global Warming

Big, entirely predictable news out here on the West Coast:

Seattle PI:

Gov. Chris Gregoire said Thursday that Washington will join other states in suing the federal government over the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision preventing the adoption of stricter rules limiting vehicle greenhouse gas emissions.

Without the tighter regulations, “we cannot achieve our goals” for cutting carbon dioxide and other planet-warming pollutants, Gregoire said at a news conference.

Associated Press:

“It is disappointing that the federal government is standing in our way and ignoring the will of tens of millions of people across the nation,” said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. “California sued to compel the agency to act on our waiver, and now we will sue to overturn today’s decision and allow Californians to protect our environment.”

It would sure be a refreshing example of prudence and respect for the taxpayer if a governor or other elected politician were to respond to a decision this way:

I am deeply disappointed by and disagree with the EPA’s decision. The agency has a point, though — a federal regulatory regime is best suited to handle control of carbon dioxide, which has global — not local or state-only — effects.

In any case, I will be declining to pursue the issue any further through the courts. I do not believe that policy decisions — and fundamentally, since these state emissions restrictions come from legislators, they are a matter of policy — should be decided by the courts. Always litigating these issues politicizes our judicial system, and it’s not free, either. The millions of dollars the states will spend on suing the EPA could be much better spent on research into environment, improving government efficiency, or even being left in the pockets of the taxpayers. I’m disappointed, yes, but let’s move on to more positive pursuits.

Jonathan Adler, a clear-thinking (and writing!) law professor at Case Western Reserve and contributor to The National Review — has been looking at the legal issues involved with EPA denying California’s request for a waiver.

In my view, the EPA’s decision to deny California’s application for a waiver of preemption under the Clean Air Act for the state’s greenhouse gas emission controls for new motor vehicles was good law, if questionable policy. The EPA’s conclusion that California was not entitled to a waiver of preemption is utterly defensible under the Clean Air Act. Assuming the agency adequately explained the basis for its conclusion, I find no legal fault with the EPA.

More here, and again, he disagrees with the EPA decision as a matter of policy, not law.

Where’s Adler in all these news accounts of the issue?

Join the discussion One Comment

  • snowshoeblue says:

    Bush’s Supreme Court will rule against Bush’s EPA, after which Bush will order the Supreme Court’s rendition to . . .

Leave a Reply