With the Supreme Court’s ruling in Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency, the stage was set for the EPA to rule on CO2. All that was required was a finding by the EPA that CO2 and other greenhouse gasses (GHG), such as Methane, were a threat to health and were a public danger.
With an Endangerment Finding, the EPA would be at liberty to establish regulations controlling CO2, Methane and other GHG.
It made no difference that CO2 was a critical ingredient in life itself.
The EPA used the science as defined by the UN and its International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as the foundation for its Endangerment Finding. Whether the UN and the IPCC were the purveyors of good science made no difference. The EPA made its Endangerment Finding in December 2009, after which it had the authority to regulate CO2 and Methane under the Clean Air Act.
The ruling has been challenged in court, but there is an underlying problem with any challenge, no matter how strong the argument and no matter how powerful the science.
As reported in the news last week, “a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington DC ruled that the EPA’s interpretation of the Clean Air Act was ‘unambiguously correct’ and that the opponents don’t have the legal right to challenge the so-called timing and tailoring rules.”
The Court ruled that, “the agency had ‘substantial record evidence’ that greenhouse gasses probably caused the climate to warm over the last several decades.”
And this is at the heart of why the courts will not overturn the EPA.
The three judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, DC said, “In the end, petitioners are asking us to re-weigh the scientific evidence before EPA and reach our own conclusion. This is not our role.”
The courts will not attempt to decide the science.
This means that the EPA can continue regulating GHG unless the EPA overturns its Endangerment Finding or that Congress, with the President’s signature, establishes that CO2 is not to be regulated under the Clean Air Act.
It’s doubtful the Supreme Court will even hear the case that was ruled on by the Court of Appeals. After all, the Supreme Court has already ruled that the EPA had the authority to regulate GHG, once it issued the Endangerment Finding.
What remains is an issue that has the potential to prevent the United States from becoming energy independent.
First, the EPA has killed the use of coal. No new coal-fired plants can be built under its regulations controlling CO2 emissions without carbon capture and sequestration.
Second, the EPA has proven to be antagonistic towards fracking, and has raised the specter that Methane, i.e., natural gas, emissions from wells are a problem.
Third, CO2 emissions from natural gas NGCC power plants are just barely above the CO2 emission limits established by the EPA. They can be easily adjusted to restrict the use of natural gas without carbon capture and sequestration.
Fourth, Europe and California have championed regulating CO2 emissions from automobiles.
Fifth, oil from Canadian tar-sands produces more CO2 emissions than oil produced by traditional means. The use of Canadian oil could be threatened.
While cap and trade may have died in Congress, the EPA is achieving most of what the cap and trade legislation intended.
Global warming is an energy issue because of the EPA’s Endangerment Finding.
Having the EPA overturn its Endangerment Finding or getting Congress, with the President’s signature on the legislation, to establish that CO2 is not to be regulated under the Clean Air Act are daunting tasks, and if efforts are not successful, the United States economy will have to continue to struggle under these crippling CO2 regulations.
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