Massachusetts v. EPA: After 13 years, it's time for climate policy review
By William L. Kovacs Today marks 13 years since the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark decision in Massachusetts v. EPA upholding the power of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate greenhouse gases, the gases attributed to the warming of the planet. The ruling touched off a fierce debate over the science underlining climate change and the policies needed to address it. In 2009, using legal authorities recognized by the Supreme Court, EPA issued its Endangerment Finding (“EF”), which is the factual and scientific underpinning that justified numerous regulations covering automobiles, oil and gas, manufacturing and power plants. While the regulations were litigated, the EF was not directly litigated. The policy debate over climate change may be fiercer today than ever. The Democratic presidential candidates claim “scientists are telling us” we have about a decade to act before “irreparable damage” is done to the planet. Democrats propose spending trillions of dollars to save the planet through, among other measures, the Green New Deal and the elimination of fossil fuels. President Trump and other skeptics question the underlying science. They assert that the cost and the regulations will destroy the economy. Moreover, the president has acted aggressively to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, an international accord addressing global warning. The Trump administration is also repealing many Obama-era climate regulations. While the fight plays out on the political stage, the real fight is over the validity of the models predicting harm to the planet. Both sides believe their positions are absolutely right. So far, both sides have embellished their bluster but have avoided having their conclusions directly tested through independent analysis or cross-examination. This stalemate may change. On March 9, the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change (“the Center”) filed a petition asking EPA to repeal its 2009 Endangerment Finding. This petition provides EPA with an opportunity to reevaluate its models after 13 years of real-world experience. The Center’s petition concedes:This article appeared on The Hill website at https://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/490813-mass-v-epa-after-13-years-its-time-for-climate-policy-review
- There is no debate that atmospheric carbon dioxide (“CO2”) is a greenhouse gas;
- There is also no debate that the concentration of atmospheric CO2 has risen over the past two centuries; and
- There is no debate that global temperatures are warmer today than they were 50, 100 or even 200 years ago.