Supreme Court Limits EPA Authority In Regulation Of Greenhouse Gases

scalia220px-AlfedPalmersmokestacksAssociate Justice Antonin Scalia eked out a victory against the Environmental Protection Agency in a 5-4 opinion today limiting the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases. However, the decision however does not prevent the EPA from using other means to regulate the pollutants linked to global warming. Specifically the vote means that the Clean Air Act does not allow for the EPA require a point source to obtain a PSD or Title 5 permit. The vote was a straight ideological division with Justice Anthony Kennedy joining his conservative colleagues in the majority. The majority held that “A brief review of the relevant statutory provisions leaves no doubt that the PSD program and Title V are designed to apply to, and cannot rationally be extended beyond, a relative handful of large sources capable of shouldering heavy substantive and procedural burdens.” Utility Air Regulatory Group v. Environmental Protection Agency is the lead case of six cases on the regulation of greenhouse gases.


The decision reverses part of the 2012 opinion supporting the authority of the EPA on requiring permits for some industries. However, the difference may be quite small. The EPA interpretation allows the agency to reach some eighty-six percent of the targeted industrial sources while other means would still allow it to reach eighty-three percent.

As we discussed earlier, the Supreme Court ruled previously that EPA has the authority to regulate greenhouse gases as a threat to human health and to the environment. The EPA proceeded in June 2010 to deal with pollution from cars and trucks (“mobile sources”) and then larger, stationary sources of greenhouse gas emissions. That latter move prompted a determined challenge from the all-powerful utility and energy industries both in Congress and the courts. The case saw a division of states, with California and New York supporting the administration. Scalia held that the D.C. Circuit failed to make a finer distinction between pollutants:

The Court of Appeals reasoned by way of a flawed syllogism: Under Massachusetts, the general, Act-wide definition of “air pollutant” includes greenhouse gases; the Act requires permits for major emitters of “any air pollutant”;therefore, the Act requires permits for major emitters of greenhouse gases. The conclusion follows from the premises only if the air pollutants referred to in the permit requiring provisions (the minor premise) are the same air pollutants encompassed by the Act-wide definition as interpreted in Massachusetts (the major premise). Yet no one—least of all EPA—endorses that proposition, and it is obviously untenable.

The Act-wide definition says that an air pollutant is“any air pollution agent or combination of such agents, including any physical, chemical, biological, [or] radioactive . . . substance or matter which is emitted into or otherwise enters the ambient air.” §7602(g). In Massachusetts, the Court held that the Act-wide definition includes greenhouse gases because it is all-encompassing; it “embraces all airborne compounds of whatever stripe.” 549 U. S., at 529. But where the term “air pollutant” appearsin the Act’s operative provisions, EPA has routinely given it a narrower, context-appropriate meaning.

Recall that in April, the Court handed a big victory to the Administration in another case in upholding the regulation over 28 states in the Midwest and South to reduce ozone and fine particle emissions that flow north and east into other states.

The Court closed the door on PSD and Title V but left another open:

To sum up: We hold that EPA exceeded its statutory authority when it interpreted the Clean Air Act to require PSD and Title V permitting for stationary sources based on their greenhouse-gas emissions. Specifically, the Agency may not treat greenhouse gases as a pollutant for purposes of defining a “major emitting facility” (or a “modification” thereof) in the PSD context or a “major source” inthe Title V context. To the extent its regulations purport to do so, they are invalid. EPA may, however, continue to treat greenhouse gases as a “pollutant subject to regulation under this chapter” for purposes of requiring BACT for “anyway” sources. The judgment of the Court of Appeals is affirmed in part and reversed in part.

Here is the opinion.

145 thoughts on “Supreme Court Limits EPA Authority In Regulation Of Greenhouse Gases”

  1. “Kool Aid”

    GO to the link above. Look at the charts that show the agreement between predictions and observations. That’s not Kool Aid. That’s good science.

    I’m guessing you think evolution is Kool Aid too?

  2. Scott, I’m not interested in arguing it either. That is why on my first post I said it’s not worth it since you have drank the Kool Aid. There’s nothing I could do or show you to change you mind. Enjoy your religions “End of the world” hysteria. I’m out.

    1. the real climate article basically agrees the models are wrong but makes excuses and thinks it will catch up with itself later. It is a rationalization for keeping the climate change models the way they are.

  3. And Jim ignores the person posting that which he cannot argue…

    Here you go AGAIN, Jim…

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/03/130307-weather-snowstorm-wrong-forecast-meteorology-world-europe-science/

    > Can you give an example of the European model outperforming U.S. models?

    > I could give you lots of them. The most famous was Hurricane Sandy. The European Centre predicted that the storm would swing toward the East Coast two days before the American model predicted it. That’s a pretty significant difference.

  4. Dredd, I never said I could predict the path better than the models. But nice personal attack anyway. It’s not all that impressive that they could tell us where Sandy was going once it was a well established storm. Hurricane path predictions more then a 2 day period are more of a guess than anything else. I don’t remember them telling us that Irene was going to turn left and go up the Hudson Valley.

  5. OK, so it only renders you tube videos? Whatever… Click through to see that the models have actually been pretty good. Not that facts matter in a post truth world.

  6. Dredd: “Paul went from “The National Review is going to bankrupt Mann” to “I don’t know what is going to happen” ”

    So typical…

    http://press.princeton.edu/titles/7929.html

    “…bull[$#|T]ters seek to convey a certain impression of themselves without being concerned about whether anything at all is true. They quietly change the rules governing their end of the conversation so that claims about truth and falsity are irrelevant. Frankfurt concludes that although bull[$#|T] can take many innocent forms, excessive indulgence in it can eventually undermine the practitioner’s capacity to tell the truth in a way that lying does not. Liars at least acknowledge that it matters what is true. By virtue of this, Frankfurt writes, bull[$#|T] is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are.”

  7. Jim keeps lying: ” But if a model can’t even predict the path of of one”

    I just posted a link that shows that not only did the US computers accurately predict the path, but the European computers did it days before ours.

    “But you gloss over the many Earth systems that interact with CO2. ”

    Another lie. I specifically mentioned that other aspects of the planet have effects. Problem is, the more CO2 we pour into the air, the smaller those effects will be compared to the warming.

    Futher, I provided a link above that shows that the actual measurements have been right in line with model predictions.

    “I doubt very much that you pay your true costs to society.”

    None of us do. That’s the whole point. As for your other lies, all the answers are here:

    http://skepticalscience.com/argument.php

    I’m sick of arguing about it. That’s why I say let’s bet. I’m sure of what’s going to happen. You’re not. So, just run along then if you don’t have some money to put on it.

  8. Scott Supak

    Paul went from “The National Review is going to bankrupt Mann” to “I don’t know what is going to happen” (paraphrased).

    Here is a link to Mann’s Motion To Dismiss Steyn’s counterclaim (PDF).

  9. Meanwhile, we’ve got coastal states like NC passing laws that forbid scientists from doing their jobs.

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/north-carolina-sea-level-rises-desipte-senators/

    > Could nature be mocking North Carolina’s law-makers? Less than two weeks after the state’s senate passed a bill banning state agencies from reporting that sea-level rise is accelerating, research has shown that the coast between North Carolina and Massachusetts is experiencing the fastest sea-level rise in the world.

    But you know, Scientific American. What does that old rag know about science?

  10. Scott, Yes, I know that hurricanes are weather. But if a model can’t even predict the path of of one, why would you think any model would have any worth predicting a larger variable set over a longer time period?

    Yes, CO2 traps heat in a closed system. But you gloss over the many Earth systems that interact with CO2. Add in solar variations, along with cyclical ocean currents and how they mess with temperatures and you get a very complex system.

    I will say it again, I doubt very much that you pay your true costs to society.

  11. Heh… Dredd… “The computer models are incredibly accurate compared to human guesswork dood.”

    What’s really funny is that weather forecasting has actually gotten much better, and, of course, the Europeans (who are much less anti-science than we are) are much better at it…

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/03/130307-weather-snowstorm-wrong-forecast-meteorology-world-europe-science/

    > Can you give an example of the European model outperforming U.S. models?

    > I could give you lots of them. The most famous was Hurricane Sandy. The European Centre predicted that the storm would swing toward the East Coast two days before the American model predicted it. That’s a pretty significant difference.

  12. Dredd: “This Steyn is a slander mouthed fool who is going down in his own fire.”

    Yeah, unfortunately he and his ilk are going to take the rest of us down with them.

    Still no bets I see… I guess the argument has shifted… Now we’re going to get warmer, but it’s not the CO2…

    What a joke. I sure do miss Intrade. Nothing sweeter than taking money from science deniers and poll unskewers.

  13. Jim22

    Paul, Have you ever seen the hurricane prediction paths that the computer models make?

    ===================================
    They predicted exactly where Sandy would hit when it was a hundreds of miles away.

    Wanna bet you can beat them?

    You see a swirling, spinning monster in the ocean, and you can tell where it will hit better than those models?

    Nutcase rising.

    The computer models are incredibly accurate compared to human guesswork dood.

  14. Spinelli:

    “The Middle East is exploding”

    What a joke. If this is exploding, then it was nuclear while the cod-pieced draft dodger Bush was shocking and awing the place.

    Idiotic?

    “99% of our countries scientists believe in climate change.”

    Of the 13950 peer-reviewed scientific articles on global warming between 1991 and 2012, 24 rejected global warming.

    That’s more than 99%

    http://desmogblog.com/2012/11/15/why-climate-deniers-have-no-credibility-science-one-pie-chart

  15. Paul C. Schulte

    YOU: “Dredd – by the time National Review gets done with him he won’t have the money to prosecute the suit much less sue me. Saying that he hides his data is the truth. The defense to either libel or slander is ‘the truth.”
    —————
    ME: “I notice that Michael Mann, Phd. has now filed a motion to dismiss the counterclaim of Steyn.

    Mann’s lawyers ask for costs per the D.C. SLAPP law.

    Will Steyn re-hire his lawyers?”
    —————
    YOU: “… have no idea what is going to happen. Much has changed since the end of the U. Va case, the Canada case, etc. There is some thought that the judge clearly overstepped, but that appeals do cost money.”
    ====================
    He is digging a deeper grave for himself, filing a tirade against the court and judge, to wit:

    Shortly before this Court denied the defendants’ motions to dismiss the amended complaint, Steyn filed a motion to vacate the Court’s July 19 orders — which was nothing other than an extended diatribe against this Court, accusing it of “improper”, “grotesque”, and “zombie-like” behavior.

    (Mann’s Motion to dismiss Counterclaim, and for sanctions). Not a good sign for Steyn.

    The National Review lawyers are being subverted by Steyn and he has no clue about what he is doing to all of the defendants.

    Can you imagine the cross-exam before the judge and jury … “Ok Mr. Steyn, how was the judge “zombie-like” and “grotesque”?

    This Steyn is a slander mouthed fool who is going down in his own fire.

  16. Jim: “You just pretend to think that all of your actions are neutral.”

    Wrong again. I’m willing to pay what my energy actually costs (half my power comes from Niagra).

    “why would I bet on something that I don’t believe we have any control of either way?”

    Since you’re not denying that the planet is getting warmer, then I guess you don’t want to bet then.

    “hurricane prediction paths”

    Weather is not the same as climate.

    CO2 traps heat. Add more CO2, get more heat. This is basic. Volcanoes might cool us off occasionally, other things might make small differences, but the basic physics remains: CO2 traps heat.

    And the idea that making people pay the true cost of carbon will ruin the economy is complete crap.

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