Will Last Week's Positive Supreme Court Decision Ultimately Lead To an Ironic Result?
Justice Kennedy Thwarts the Gutting of Environmental Law for 2nd Time This Term
High Court Faults EPA Inaction on Emissions
With the Supreme Court ruling that the Environmental
Protection Agency must consider regulations of greenhouse gas emissions,
the stage is now set for a bigger environmental decision regarding
global warming. But now Better World Club wonders: will this positive
decision of the Court ultimately have an ironic impact on these
Given the EPA's failure to take a strong stand on the issue, BWC
has been working in support of state efforts to regulate auto greenhouse
gas emissions. Ten states have taken the lead on greenhouse gas
emissions, but the auto industry - and the Bush administration -
challenged those states by asserting that their laws were preempted
by EPA regs (despite there being no EPA regs concerning global warming).
Now, with the Court telling the EPA to live up to its responsibilities,
the question is: will the EPA promulgate inadequate regs and give
the auto industry greater incentive to argue that these regulations
should pre-empt the states' regulations?
Of course, such a decision doesn't necessarily follow. It's not
at all legally clear that stronger state regs cannot co-exist with
EPA regs, but this is the decision that the Court will ultimately
have to make.
Still, from a pure Court-watching point of view, it's hard not
to savor the most recent environmental victory. It is also noteworthy
that, for the second time this year, the decision turned on the
judgment of just one justice: Anthony Kennedy, a Ronald Reagan selection.
Earlier this term, Kennedy refused to go along with Justices Scalia,
Alito, Thomas, and Roberts, who wanted to "gut" the Clean
Water Act, as National Public Radio put it. This time, Kennedy was
the swing vote that the EPA was not meeting its statutory obligations.