Court wades into 'global warming' fray
The same five liberal justices who gave us Kelo v. New London now open the way for draconian measures to combat global warming. Kelo, you will remember, is the decision that gave cities the right to take poor people’s property by force and sell it to rich people who would then pay more taxes.
Apr. 03, 2007
Las Vegas Review-Journal
EDITORIAL: Court wades into 'global warming' fray
Justices rule carbon dioxide is an 'air pollutant'
In a 5-4 vote Monday, the slim holdover majority of the U.S. Supreme Court that still favors increased government meddling in the economy ordered Bush administration officials to reconsider their refusal to regulate greenhouse gases.
The Environmental Protection Agency has concluded carbon dioxide isn't an "air pollutant" subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act.
In fact, atmospheric CO2 comes primarily from such natural sources as volcanoes and ocean algae. And CO2 levels have cycled up and down since long before mankind started burning coal or oil.
But five justices on Monday rejected the findings of the EPA, ruling greenhouse gases are indeed air pollutants, and that the EPA thus failed to follow the requirements of the Clean Air Act when it opted in 2003 not to order cuts in carbon dioxide emissions from new cars and trucks.
"EPA has offered no reasoned explanation for its refusal to decide whether greenhouse gases cause or contribute to climate change," Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the majority -- neatly implying that an agency chartered to clean up the air and water was somehow also mandated to fix the "climate."
The ruling doesn't necessarily mean the EPA will have to impose new regulations. But the decision is seen as a boost to advocates of stronger central government interventions based on fears of global warming.
Writing for the dissenters, Chief Justice John Roberts warned the court "has no business substituting its own desired outcome for the reasoned judgment of the responsible agency."
Thirty years ago, the same fear mongers who today use "global warming" as an excuse to call for hiking energy costs and reducing standards of living in America and Europe -- but not in the Third World -- were warning about "global cooling." But there is a general consensus today that the Earth is, instead, warming -- probably by about a degree per century.
What is not clear is whether this will prove catastrophic -- previous warming cycles have had little impact but to increase arable land -- and whether any human action can significantly change these natural cycles.
Because mankind doesn't even produce the majority of greenhouse gases, that seems unlikely. So what's the real agenda of the "global warming" alarmists?
U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, ranking Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., recently wrote to ask Czech President (and economist) Vaclav Klaus for his thoughts.
"As someone who lived under communism for most of my life I feel obliged to say that the biggest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity at the beginning of the 21st century is not communism or its various softer variants," President Klaus replied. Rather, "Communism was replaced by the threat of ambitious environmentalism.
"The so-called climate change and especially man-made climate change has become one of the most dangerous arguments aimed at distorting human efforts and public policies in the whole world," the Czech president continued. "I warn against adopting regulations based on the so-called precautionary principle which the environmentalists use to justify their recommendations, the clear benefit of which they are not able to prove.
"Responsible politics should take into account the opportunity costs of such proposals and be aware of the fact that the wasteful environmentalist policies are adopted to the detriment of other policies, thus neglecting many other important needs of millions of people all over the world."