Tuesday, November 28, 2006

"If at first you don't succeed, keep on sucking." - Tomorrow will be the first day that the SCOTUS will hear arguments presented by 12 states, along with a number of large cities and several environmentalist organizations, all to the effect that the Clean Air Act requires the EPA to regulate the amount of CO2 produced by new vehicles - similar to it's regulation of smog-producing pollutants. For it's part, the Bush administration posits that the EPA does not have explicit authority to regulate CO2 as a pollutant, and that if it did have such authority, it would also have discretion as to how best to reduce CO2 without placing a burden on an already besieged auto industry. (It also contends that the states have no standing, as they are unable to demonstrate how they would be singularly harmed by the EPA's refusal to regulate CO2.)

As a layperson, I am loath to attempt to judge the specific merits of the lawsuit, although it would seem to hinge on whether the SCOTUS considers CO2 to be an "air pollutant" that would come under the EPA's purview. But beyond the complexities of jurisprudence are issues of expanded government powers and increased regulatory burdens on the manufacturing sector.
Unfortunately, as with most regulatory constraints advocated by the Left, this broadening of the federal government's aegis is being promoted in the absence of any consideration of associated costs (i.e.: costs to the taxpayers to enforce an expanded EPA mandate, the cost to automakers to develop the technology that will allow them to meet more stringent emissions standards, and of course the cost to consumers who will ultimately bear the burden of higher vehicle prices.)

The hype of progressives notwithstanding, the science behind global warming has yet to rise above the level of hypothesis, let alone to the point where new federal regulations must be implemented. Perhaps a more basic concern is whether a group of states has the right to dictate America's response to the purported threat of global warming. Having failed to create a sufficient sense of urgency with their proselytizing and fearmongering, global warming adherents on the Left are throwing a very familiar "hail Mary" pass: namely, policy change via judicial fiat.

One only hopes that one of the Justices - perhaps Scalia, Thomas or Alito - will ask the plaintiffs about how these attendant costs will be offset by any long-term benefit (real or imagined) in preventing or delaying climate change. For the best decision in this matter will take into account not only the letter of applicable laws, but the immediate and verifiable expense of following such laws.

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