EPA Climate Change Case Before Supreme Court

Lynne Kiesling

Jonathan Adler has summary post at Volokh Conspiracy that provides a lot of useful links to articles and analyses of yesterday’s Supreme Court oral arguments in Massachusetts vs. EPA. This Washington Post article gives an overview of the case and the arguments:

Twelve states, led by Massachusetts and joined by the District of Columbia, are objecting to the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to decline to issue emissions standards for new cars and trucks. They and the environmental organizations that support them say the standards should be the first step in a broader effort to reduce carbon dioxide and other gases that they say are harming the atmosphere and leading to global warming and rising sea levels.

One of the sobering things for me in this is the level of discussion and understanding at the science/policy interface. Complex systems are hard to understand, and the intricacies are hard to communicate to non-experts; yet when we choose to make such complex systems the object of public policy, those non-experts are precisely the parties who make the path-determining decisions. Very sobering.


3 thoughts on “EPA Climate Change Case Before Supreme Court

  1. Given the title of the blog, this is a good topic!

    Another interpretation is that the EPA is the government expert and has made the policy decision. Others have challenged the decision made by the responsible expert. I would think that the courts must start with the position that the EPA is best suited to make the policy.

    Of course, the plaintiffs maintain that the EPA acted politically (big oil, big auto, etc.) rather than responding to science and reason.

    In any case, the court is not the place for these kinds of policy decisions. The elected branches (legislative and executive) should make policy; they are accountable to the people and their decisions can be changed. Look at the abortion issue and Roe v. Wade for an excellent example of what happens when the courts step in prematurely.

  2. Given the title of the blog, this is a good topic!

    Another interpretation is that the EPA is the government expert and has made the policy decision. Others have challenged the decision made by the responsible expert. I would think that the courts must start with the position that the EPA is best suited to make the policy.

    Of course, the plaintiffs maintain that the EPA acted politically (big oil, big auto, etc.) rather than responding to science and reason.

    In any case, the court is not the place for these kinds of policy decisions. The elected branches (legislative and executive) should make policy; they are accountable to the people and their decisions can be changed. Look at the abortion issue and Roe v. Wade for an excellent example of what happens when the courts step in prematurely.

  3. The legislative branch has made the decision. The enviros are not happy with the decision and seek to have the courts overturn the legislative decision, rather than seeking to amend the legislation.

    There is sound argument that EPA went well beyond the scope of the legislation in the late 90s, when they began the series of NSR lawsuits over maintenance programs. That, however, was what the enviros wanted and EPA was praised.

    There is sound argument that EPA decided correctly within the scope of the legislation in this case. That, however, was not what the enviros wanted and EPA is being vilified.

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