As you’ve probably read, a United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia last week upheld the EPA’s right to regulate greenhouse gas emissions in the US. There are several big things to note about this ruling that you may not have caught, however.
1. The three-judge panel unanimously shot down every single challenge to the EPA’s relatively new authority. Politico notes, “several observers said the appellate court would at the very least ask the agency to tweak its approach.” But it didn’t. “Instead, it upheld them all.”
“In court, opponents attacked EPA’s entire chain of decisions – and got no support at all from the judges. In an 82-page decision, the judges rejected every argument brought by the petitioners, including states,” Aol Energy writes.
“EPA’s interpretation of the governing (Clean Air Act) provisions is unambiguously correct,” the judges wrote.
2. The chief judge in this decision was a very conservative judge, Reagan-appointed David Sentelle. “And not just any Reagan appointee,” Legal Planet notes. ”Sentelle is probably the most right-wing judge on the circuit. A former associate of Jesse Helms, he pulled the strings to extend the Whitewater investigation and get Ken Starr appointed as independent counsel.
“Memo to state and industry petitioners, who have hired some of the best legal minds in the country: if you’ve lost David Sentelle, you’d better reconsider your legal strategy.”
Gone over the edge? It seems so, even according to some very conservative and powerful people.
3. The judges (including über conservative Sentelle) mocked the ridiculousness of some of the challenges. US politics has become… well,… not what it was meant to be. The off-the-edge GOP leadership (note: I’m not saying all or even most GOP voters fall into this box) is even getting mocked by its own these days. Concerning the idea that the EPA shouldn’t base its regulations or decision on Nobel-prize-winning IPCC research supported by every national science academy in the world, the ruling stated that building on past scientific research “is how science works. EPA is not required to re-prove the existence of the atom every time it approaches a scientific question.” That last line wasn’t needed, of course, but it drives home an obvious point that some people don’t want to accept.
4. Coal may really be a “dead man walking.” “Industry analysts say the GHG rules proposed so far effectively bar any new coal plants in the US, at the same time that other EPA rules, especially the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard, may be the last straw forcing many older coal plants to shut,” Aol Energy states.
Very notably, however, “EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has said the GHG rules are following the market, not leading it.” New coal just simply isn’t competitive anymore. In the US, the market is showing that.
Big decision? Yes. Obviously correct decision? Yes. Are obviously correct decisions generally what our country leadership implements? Certainly not. So, I’d say this is a huge win… especially given points #2 and 4 above.
Thanks to Peter Sinclair for putting together the roundup that led to this post.
Image Credit: wooden gavel via Shutterstock
I'm the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular clean energy website in the world, and Planetsave, a leading green and science news site. I've been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and I've been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, bicycling, and wind energy for the past few years. You can also find my work on Scientific American, Reuters, Think Progress, GE's ecomagination site, several sites in the Important Media network, & many other places. To connect on some of your favorite social networks, go to zacharyshahan.com or click on some of the links below.