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Supreme Court Casts Doubt on States’ GHG Suit

Supreme Court justices indicated on Tuesday their skepticism about a lawsuit that seeks to hold power companies accountable for carbon dioxide that crosses state boundaries.

All justices presiding, regardless of ideology, signaled doubts about the case, the Washington Post reports.

California, Connecticut, Iowa, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont, along with New York City and three environmental groups, are suing power plants in Ohio, North Carolina, Georgia and Minnesota. The case, American Electric Power Co v. Connecticut, covers five power companies: American Electric Power Co., Cinergy Corp., Southern Co., Xcel Energy and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), an independent federal corporation with millions of electricity customers.

“Asking a court to set standards for emissions sounds like the kind of thing that EPA does,” said Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, referring to the Environmental Protection Agency. “I mean, Congress set up the EPA to promulgate standards for emissions, and… the relief you’re seeking seems to me to set up a district judge, who does not have the resources, the expertise, as a kind of ‘super-EPA.'”

The Post said that the hearing Tuesday was on whether the case should go to trial before a district judge, but that the justices often questioned how a federal judge would consider such a case. The Obama administration is also opposing the states’ effort.

In 2007, the Supreme Court said that greenhouse gases (GHGs) can be regulated by the EPA under the Clean Air Act. New York Solicitor General Barbara D. Underwood argued that EPA action on GHGs will likely be delayed by the actions of congressional Republicans, who have launched various tactics to revoke that authority or the funding for it.

“It could be a long time before EPA actually arrives at a judgment,” Underwood told the court. “A lot can happen to delay or derail the fulfillment of a promise.”

The agency has ordered states to begin issuing GHG permits to big emitters such as oil refineries, coal-burning power plants, cement factories and glass makers. Those rules took effect January 2, although the EPA decided to defer application of the GHG rules to biomass facilities for three years, and states have struggled with the federal government over the permitting process.

The EPA plans to propose GHG emissions limits this year, and finalize the rules next year. In the meantime, large emitters and fuel suppliers must report their 2010 GHG data to the EPA by September 30, 2011.

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One thought on “Supreme Court Casts Doubt on States’ GHG Suit

  1. Fellow Former Climate Change Believers:
    Scientists made environmental protection necessary in the first place when they supposedly polluted the planet with their evil chemicals and cancer causing pesticides and so how ironic is it that we bowed like fools to our Gods of science for 25 years of “unstoppable warming”?
    Scientists are not gods and don’t forget that scientists also produced cruise missiles, cancer causing chemicals, land mine technology, nuclear weapons, germ warfare, cluster bombs, strip mining technology, Y2K, Y2Kyoto, deep sea drilling technology and now climate control. Proof of consensus not being real is the fact that scientists did not march in the streets when IPCC funding was pulled, the EPA was castrated and Obama’s not even mentioning the “crisis” in his state of the union speech. Consensus was a myth because if it were true, the consensus scientists declaring a climate emergency would act like it was an emergency and demand their CO2 mitigation be taken seriously. We believed a handful of lab coat consultants who said we could CONTROL the planet’s temperature and prevent it from boiling. Pure insanity as history will call this modern day witch burning. The new denier is anyone still believing voters will vote YES to taxing the air to make the weather colder. Not going to happen.
    REAL planet lovers don’t hold scientists as Gods and bow to politicians promising to make lower the seas and scare kids with such doomsday glee.
    There is now a solid grass roots effort by the masses of former climate change believers to have the leading scientists and leading news editors subjected to criminal charges for knowingly sustaining the false CO2 death threats to billions of children for the last 25 years of the climate blame mistake.
    Stay tuned. We missed getting Bush for his false war and a wave of former believer rage will get this one right. Call the courthouse.

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