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All Eyes to EPA on Global Warming

All Eyes to EPA on Global Warming

The U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate carbon dioxide and other global warming pollutants under the Clean Air Act last month when it denied a petition by several states to force power plants to reduce pollution.

Take action: Ask President Obama to enact strong climate protections and increase auto fuel efficiency standards.

The original lawsuit was filed in 2004 by several states looking to force pollution reductions at a time when the George W. Bush administration was claiming to have no authority to regulate carbon dioxide. The states sued under common-law nuisance provisions, which is what the Supreme Court blocked. The Court had previously ruled in 2007 that not only did EPA have the authority to regulate carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act, it must.

In denying the 2004 petition last month, Justice Ginsburg wrote for the majority: “The expert agency is surely better equipped to do the job than individual district judges issuing ad hoc, case-by-case injunctions. Federal judges lack the scientific, economic and technological resources an agency can utilize in coping with issues of this order.”

So with last year’s failure of comprehensive climate legislation in the U.S. Congress, all eyes turn to EPA. “Today the country’s highest court validated EPA’s ability to adopt strong standards, and now the Obama Administration should feel confident in moving forward with meaningful protections from coal-fired power plants and other sources of industrial pollution,” wrote Mary Anne Hitt, director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, in a statement.

What the Obama administration is prepared to do is an open question. That President Obama has “failed to use the bully pulpit to make the case for bold action on climate change” is a common criticism most recently leveled by former Vice President Al Gore in an essay for Rolling Stone. But Gore’s Obama criticism drew disproportionate attention compared to his overall message, which included strong criticism of the news media’s handling of the climate issue, explains Natural Resources Defense Council’s Dan Lashof in a blog post on Grist. “The jury is still out on President Obama’s climate record. The verdict depends on the power plant and automobile standards the administration is writing now,” says Lashof.

The combination of electric power plants and vehicles accounts for approximately 60 percent of U.S. climate pollution, but on both measures, the administration is focusing on other benefits.

Obama is making the case for fuel efficiency regulations requiring cars and light trucks to average 56.2 miles per gallon by 2025 on the grounds that it would save consumers money and reduce the United States dependency on oil, but the measure would also dramatically reduce global warming pollution from vehicles. (Sign a petition supporting fuel efficiency improvements.)

Details of the administration’s approach to power plant rules have not yet been released, but based on opposition to other power plant regulations and the showdown in New Jersey over a regional agreement on power plant pollution, it will be contentious.

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53 comments

+ add your own
5:09AM PDT on Jul 24, 2011

Really interesting. Thank you.

7:53PM PDT on Jul 21, 2011

Avery important message is the United Nations land grab of private property called Smart Growth---Sustainable Development has to be stopped. Go to democratsagainstunagenda21.com

7:22PM PDT on Jul 21, 2011

William:

Coal-burning has also cooled temperatures in the past: That is the explanation for the cooling period 1940-1970: it generates sulfates aerosols. However, you need to keep in mind two things:
- Over time (year or so), the sulfates drop out of the atmosphere. When that happens, you lose the cooling effect. But the excess CO2 that was contributed at the same time, due to the coal burning, remains in the atmosphere for thousands of years.
- The acidification of the oceans (technically, the reduction of pH) due to the dissolution of CO2 into the water will NOT be offset by the sulfates.

So, the sulfates don't solve the problem of CO2. For the atmosphere, the best they can do is postpone the issue (the way that you can postpone problems with excessive credit-card debt by taking out a new credit card and transferring the balance: It buys a little time, but doesn't really get rid of your debt); for the oceans, they don't even do that. Oh, plus you get acid rain.

7:10PM PDT on Jul 21, 2011

”Sulphur pollutants from coal-fired power stations in China have tended to cool the global climate over the past decade in contrast to the warming effect resulting from rising concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, scientists have found.
A study has shown that the leveling of global average surface temperatures between 1998 and 2009 can be explained by the cooling effect resulting from the sulphur-containing gases emitted from mainly Chinese power stations over the same time period.”

http://seeker401.wordpress.com/2011/07/07/chinese-coal-pollution-has-had-a-cooling-effect-on-the-planet/

“Robert Kaufmann of Boston University, has done extensive research on the subjects of global oil markets and climate change and began investigating this brief pause in a response to unconvinced individuals. This recent study has found that this lull is in fact directly correlated to China’s massive fuel consumption. Burning coal not only produces carbon dioxide, but also produces sulphate aerosol particles. These tiny fragments reflect solar energy back into space, therefore successfully cooling the planet.”

http://agendabeijing.com/chinas-coal-consumption-fueling-global-cooling/

There you go folks burn more coal and save the planet. Just how does it work both ways? Any of you believers looking for water front property in Florida? Have I got a deal for you……..

11:50AM PDT on Jul 17, 2011

And this according to the National Weather Service ,Past Member; heat indices in the upper midwest of 126 degrees.

11:49AM PDT on Jul 17, 2011

Past Member:

Unfortunately, all attempts to disprove the actuality of global warming have failed. You can find all such attempts analyzed and found wanting, here:
http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

11:38AM PDT on Jul 17, 2011

Nothing's been debuncked except by "scientists prostituted to big oil,Past Member.

11:26AM PDT on Jul 17, 2011

Really? People still believe in global warming? Its 2011 people this stuff has already been debunked as a lie.

9:52AM PDT on Jul 16, 2011

great article!

6:33AM PDT on Jul 16, 2011

Freeman,those 1,000 "scientists" work for Big Oil,in whose interest it is to convince us there's no need for concern. But the increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events is precisely what was predicted as a concequence of this stage of a warming atmospere.

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Julie M. Rodriguez Julie M. Rodriguez is an arts, green living, and political writer based in San Mateo, CA. Her work... more
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