The city of Baltimore (Get in on it!) is joining a bunch of states and assorted rabble rousers in a lawsuit aimed at forcing the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, those pesky people-produced chemicals that are fueling large changes in the composition our atmosphere. From the Sun:
The city, which hasn't had a case before the nation's highest court in decades, is arguing that at least 860 buildings near the Inner Harbor could suffer $420 million in flood damage if the federal government doesn't act on its legal obligation to slow global warming and sea-level rise, according to papers filed with the court.(Phelan, huh? That name sounds familiar. Oh yeah.)
New York City and the District of Columbia also have joined Massachusetts, California and other states in suing the Bush administration for refusing to regulate carbon dioxide and other global warming gases from vehicles under the Clean Air Act. That law, last revised in 1990, says the EPA shall set standards for emissions that "cause or contribute to air pollution which may be reasonably anticipated to endanger public health or welfare," including through climate or weather.
The arguments in Massachusetts v. EPA are scheduled for 10 a.m. tomorrow, although a decision is not expected until after February. A win by Baltimore and the other plaintiffs could empower federal and state governments to take action on what some have called the most important environmental issue of our time, while a loss could inhibit efforts to reduce global warming.
"Congress has already acted - and they've given the EPA the clear mandate to regulate air pollutants," said Bill Phelan, principal counsel for the Baltimore city solicitor's office. "And all of the greenhouse gases being considered - carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide - are all things that easily fall within the definition of air pollutants."
In case you're wondering, I support the lawsuit and, by extension, the regulation of greenhouse gases. But then, I tend to think that byproducts of fossil fuel burning that alter our atmosphere with potentially catastrophic consequences should be classified as pollutants, not "Life" or some other inappropriate euphemism. And I'm continually amazed at things like this:
The Bush administration argues in its brief to the Supreme Court that carbon dioxide isn't really a pollutant, but instead a normal and inevitable product of burning oil and coal. The only way to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles is to improve their fuel economy, and these standards are set by the Department of Transportation, not the EPA, the administration argues.Sulfer dioxide is a normal and inevitable product of burning oil and coal. So are mercury and nitrogen oxides. Yet, all of these are regulated as pollutants under the Clean Air Act.
Am I missing something?