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SCOTUS: Clean Air Act Trumps Emissions Lawsuits

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the laying-down-the-law dept.

Government 303

schwit1 writes "The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a global warming lawsuit against five big power companies, its most important environmental ruling since 2007 and a victory for the utilities and the Obama administration. The justices unanimously overturned a ruling by a US appeals court that the lawsuit now involving six states can proceed in an effort to force the coal-burning plants to cut emissions of gases that contribute to climate change. In a defeat for environmentalists, the Supreme Court agreed with the companies that regulating greenhouse gases should be left to the Environmental Protection Agency under the clean air laws. The ruling stemmed from a 2004 lawsuit claiming the five electric utilities have created a public nuisance by contributing to climate change. The lawsuit wanted a federal judge to order them to cut their carbon dioxide emissions."

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Whelp (-1, Flamebait)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505378)

Dear US residents, prepare to pay 40c/kwh for power. And please continue buying it from us in Canada at 30c/kwh. Enjoy the inflation.

Re:Whelp (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36505452)

Where did you get that from the story? You think this is actually a step towards strengthening regulation?

Re:Whelp (5, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505472)

We'll trade you the Stanley Cup for a discount.

Re:Whelp (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36505686)

We'll trade you the Stanley Cup for a discount.

Wow, the Boston Bruins have more Canadian players than any other team in the league (other than san jose). In fact, there are many more Americans playing for the Vancouver Canucks than there are on the Boston Bruins.

So shut the fuck up.

Re:Whelp (1, Funny)

TehDuffman (987864) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505918)

We'll trade you the Stanley Cup for a discount.

Wow, the Boston Bruins have more Canadian players than any other team in the league (other than san jose). In fact, there are many more Americans playing for the Vancouver Canucks than there are on the Boston Bruins.

So shut the fuck up.

1993! That was the last time Canada won the Cup. Who cares what nationality the players are the cup is in Boston now and Chicago last year!

So why don't you shut the fuck up and go burn some cars or something.

Re:Whelp (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36505486)

The true cost, once you factor in the health problems associated with the pollution caused by burning coal, is a hell of a lot higher than 30 or even 40 cents per kwh. Enjoy your cheap energy now, but make sure to put aside at least a hundred thousand dollars to treat your inevitable cancer and/or lung disease.

Re:Whelp (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36505666)

The true cost, once you factor in the health problems associated with the pollution caused by burning coal, is a hell of a lot higher than 30 or even 40 cents per kwh. Enjoy your cheap energy now, but make sure to put aside at least a hundred thousand dollars to treat your inevitable cancer and/or lung disease.

I love it when someone wants to track the total cost... and then proceeds to leave out factors.

Why don't you include the health BENEFITS of having a reliable power grid and the advanced society that power grid facilitates? Oh I see, the power you use comes from little faeries that fly out your ass while you're shoving your head up it.

Re:Whelp (2)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505698)

We can get those benefits from nuclear power while causing 1/100,000 as many cancers. We need coal-burning energy production like we need injections of benzene.

Re:Whelp (2, Insightful)

JDAustin (468180) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505818)

...and I would love to see nuclear provide 75% of our power but the same environmentalists who hate coal also hate nuclear. To them, cheap energy (no matter the source) is the problem. Of course cheap energy has done more to lift civilization out of poverty then anything else.

Re:Whelp (2)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505842)

We need coal-burning energy production like we need injections of benzene.

But, I love benzene! It's so yummy and )*&^&^%*&^[NO CARRIER]

Re:Whelp (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505990)

Why don't you include the health BENEFITS of having a reliable power grid and the advanced society that power grid facilitates?

Who is proposing that we not have a reliable power grid? Do you know what a peaking plant is?

Re:Whelp (2, Insightful)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505726)

Oh for crying out loud. While I'm sure that breathing crap is bad for you cancer and/or lung disease is not inevitable. Just like smokers that inhale 3 packs a day and live into their 80's and 90's and some die in their 40's it's all pretty much up to the physical ability of the individual's body to resist the poison. Meanwhile continuing to run the price of electricity out of sight affects everyone right now. I haven't read the actual figures on how much pollution we're talking about here but I know in the last 30 to 40 years that pollution in general where I live has pretty much been stable. Population has gone up but pollution controls have about kept pace with the growth. I'd like it to go lower, who wouldn't, but I'm not prepared to pay another 2 or 3 hundred dollars a month in electric bills to do it.

Re:Whelp (2)

SomeKDEUser (1243392) | more than 3 years ago | (#36506046)

no, it's not. It is an essentially random process.

The coal particle get lodged into your lung, causing a tiny lesion. Cell growth is activated around it and the particle get encapsulated. This extra growth spurt might, or might not cause some of the cells to mutate. The mutation might, or might not, lead to cancer.

Some people are more susceptible, yes. But the development is random. Being healthy, or rich will not help you at all.

Chalk up another one... (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36505384)

For the Obamanator.

Re:Chalk up another one... (1)

what2123 (1116571) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505454)

The most informative show for kids these days.

Re:Chalk up another one... (1)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505862)

I thought it would be more along the lines of "Mr. Obama's Neighborhood".

Can you say, "Hope and Change?" I thought you could! Bwahahah!

oooo (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36505386)

....buuuuurn.

That's just coaaaaaal

Yes, the EPA (3, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505396)

Supreme Court agreed with the companies that regulating greenhouse gases should be left to the Environmental Protection Agency

Yes, and I'm sure they're going to start doing that any day now.

Re:Yes, the EPA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36505446)

No doubt. The EPA is a joke. I will see that when they start dealing with all the abnormalities (cancer, miscarriages, etc.) in Louisiana from the oil processing plants.

Re:Yes, the EPA (0, Flamebait)

HBI (604924) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505456)

The government is working as designed.

Green types who want to cripple our lifestyle and economy in the name of reducing CO2 emissions will have to convincingly win an election with a clear mandate to do so.

It isn't happening anytime soon.

Re:Yes, the EPA (3, Insightful)

God'sDuck (837829) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505510)

Green types who want to cripple our lifestyle and economy in the name of reducing CO2 emissions will have to convincingly win an election with a clear mandate to do so.

Change != cripple.

Re:Yes, the EPA (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36505748)

The problem with this discussion is that it deals with a broad range of people.

It's "green" to want us off coal burning plants if there are better options with minimal (or no) cost difference. I think most would say this is rational.

Then there are those I've heard (on this very site) suggest that we should start the systematic sterilization of humans because we're damaging mother earth. I think most would say that's a sociopath.

People are people and they're all different. Meanwhile, stupid labels are almost always stupid.

Re:Yes, the EPA (1, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505758)

Change = Cripple when you don't have a solid plan, or expect 300 million to change there ways very quickly.

"Oh I am sorry you need to leave you house now because it is too far of a commute for you, we want you to move to a crowded, noisy and full of crime city. I don't care if you own the house, that makes it worse that means you are rich and therefore must give up more, I don't care how much harder you worked to get the money you must all live like us"

If you want Green you will need to come up with ways that would not cause people to change their way of life that they worked hard to obtain.

Re:Yes, the EPA (2)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505876)

Some people thought the Great Leap Forward was a great idea.

Re:Yes, the EPA (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36505514)

They should be winning elections if the people were smart.

Most lifestyles won't be effected by high-tech green changes as much as when oil starts to become harder to find and more people around the world can afford it.

Re:Yes, the EPA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36505526)

Considering that the greenhouse theory is inoperative, they won't be able to do so if people are rational. I'm not holding out any hope.

Re:Yes, the EPA (0)

jhoger (519683) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505544)

I think you're overreading this ruling. The EPA is quite likely to be the blunt instrument for regulating CO2, and they are required to under the Clean Air Act.

Better would be a significant energy bill but Republicans and Conservadems have made a more intelligent approach impossible.

Re:Yes, the EPA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36505582)

You wanna know what's going to cripple your lifestyle? Running out oil.

Re:Yes, the EPA (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505644)

Because, of course, nature is subservient to elections.

Re:Yes, the EPA (2, Interesting)

Rei (128717) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505724)

Precisely. Anthropogenic global warming cannot exist if the average voter doesn't believe in it. ~97-98% of active, publishing climate scientists be damned; [pnas.org] they're not a majority of the electorate.

It's just like how God exists if you can't fathom the concept of living in a universe without a God.

Re:Yes, the EPA (5, Informative)

jhoger (519683) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505506)

The complainants were smacked down unanimously simply because suing the power companies is the wrong target. They are free to sue EPA once it hands down regs, and SCOTUS made this clear. I'm not sure why they thought anything different would happen here.

Re:Yes, the EPA (2)

ninetyninebottles (2174630) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505592)

The complainants were smacked down unanimously simply because suing the power companies is the wrong target.

Wait what? Suing the people polluting and causing the problem is the wrong target and they should be suing the government agency that has not had the power to do anything yet? How does that make any sense? Regardless of if it is illegal to use asbestos in buildings, citizens should still have the right to sue companies that sell it to builders and willfully ignore the scientific evidence of its harmful effects. Likewise citizen should still be able to sue power companies for poisoning them and causing damage to crops and businesses by contributing to global warming... if they can demonstrate scientifically that is what is happening.

Re:Yes, the EPA (4, Interesting)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505652)

Releasing CO2 isn't illegal as long as it falls within current regulations. Suing the power companies is like me suing smokers (who are smoking in legal places).

Re:Yes, the EPA (2, Insightful)

ninetyninebottles (2174630) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505738)

Releasing CO2 isn't illegal as long as it falls within current regulations. Suing the power companies is like me suing smokers (who are smoking in legal places).

Sure, that's a fine analogy. Say you're in one of the few counties that still allows smoking in jail cells. Say you have severe asthma and the guy in the next cell is smoking. You tell him about the condition and ask him to stop and he tells you to fuck off and that it's legal and he doesn't care if it harms you. Yeah, you should absofuckinglutely have the right to sue him. That's what lawsuits are for, resolving conflicts where a crime is not being committed, but where the rights of two people or corporations are in conflict. You'll note I made the analogy a bit more specific, since we are all pretty well trapped in the prison cell called Earth. In the same vein, if you grow up with your parents smoking, knowing the health problems, yeah you should be able to sue your parents for forcing you to be subject to second hand smoke and if you can demonstrate it is because of the smoking, you should win and they should pay your medical and compensate you for the pain and suffering and reduced lifespan. Just because it is legal does not mean you're free from responsibility for your actions when they hurt others.

Re:Yes, the EPA (1)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505752)

Unfortunately, if its legal to smoke in the jail cell you would lose.

Re:Yes, the EPA (2)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505910)

Not so. Civil suits are not bound by whether or not the activity is legal. They are bound by the ability to prove damages. It is legal to throw rocks, but if you damage my car when doing so I can sue you for the damage.

Re:Yes, the EPA (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 3 years ago | (#36506008)

Unless, of course, there's a standing federal law in place which proclaims that it has highest precedence (per the Supremacy Clause), and that smoking is not harmful for all purposes under the law... So, obviously, you can't sue for any damage, because under the controlling law, smoking is incapable of causing damage.

Analogies suck. Nonetheless, in US environmental law, a substance widely held to be a pollutant is not, in legal fact, a pollutant until the EPA blesses it thus. So you can no more sue a utility for CO2 than you can sue them for water vapor or warm air, because in the eyes of the EPA's rules, they're all equally innocuous.

And no, in this case, state case law will never be permitted to trump the Federal government's administrative rule-making ability.

If you want CO2 emissions lowered by law, you have to start at the top: sue the EPA and force them to change their rules. Otherwise, utilities would have to work with a ridiculous and inconsistent mesh of local, county, state, and federal laws, rules, and courtroom findings.

Re:Yes, the EPA (1, Insightful)

ninetyninebottles (2174630) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505984)

Unfortunately, if its legal to smoke in the jail cell you would lose.

You're not very familiar with US law are you? Let me be real clear here. Legal != you'll win a lawsuit. It's not illegal to serve scalding hot coffee, but McDonalds lost. It's not illegal to own a trampoline or pool and have it in your backyard unattended, but a great many people have lost lawsuits over doing just that. It's not illegal to own animals, but if one of your animals escapes and hurts someone, you better believe you're going to lose a lawsuit. Maybe you need to look into the phrase "civil law".

The law disallows (1)

Quila (201335) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505950)

In very many places the law disallows suits over things. We don't need thousands of suits clogging up the courts over issues that have already been decided by law or already have an alternate legal venue prescribed by law.

People who bring such suits need to be punished for abuse of the court system.

Re:Yes, the EPA (2)

cirby (2599) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505694)

Wait what? Suing the people polluting and causing the problem is the wrong target and they should be suing the government agency that has not had the power to do anything yet?

Except that they have, since the 2007 case.

The EPA issued a ruling in 2009 which says so explicitly, listing CO2 with several other gases which could be considered pollutants because of potential greenhouse effects.

Re:Yes, the EPA (2)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505788)

The problem with your logic is that it doesn't make sense to have the power companies regulate their own emissions, which is actually what you're arguing for (albeit in a roundabout way, by having them sued anytime they break some undefined limit). Think about it this way - if you argue that you can sue the power company for failing to not cause climate change, then you are implicitly stating that the power companies are responsible for regulating climate-change-causing things. It makes far more sense, legally, to sue the EPA for failing to perform its essential function, just as you can sue the FDA for failing to regulate food quality, or sue the FAA for failing to regulate air transport.

Re:Yes, the EPA (3, Insightful)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505746)

I haven't read the law that created the EPA, but,

Either the plaintiffs didn't read that law and it clearly states that anyone is exempt from being sued as long as they follow EPA regs, or the Supreme Court inferred that anyone who follows EPA regs is indemnified but it doesn't actually say that in the law.

With woo-woo plaintiffs and a classic Alice-in-Wonderland Supreme Court, I give it a 50-50 shot that it went either way.

Except that this was a unanimous decision, and I know at least 3 of these justices know enough to read the law before voting on it.

Re:Yes, the EPA (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505888)

In other words, you can punish someone, as long as it's ultimately yourself.

Don't pay for power anymore (3, Interesting)

h00manist (800926) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505516)

It would be nice if technology evolves so you could generate your own power easily, perhaps with a few neighbors - and not pay or support any company at all.

Re:Don't pay for power anymore (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36505602)

This is why I'd like to see more R&D done for "bathtub reactors", and smaller nuclear energy generation solutions. This way, a neighborhood can have a mini plant that can do 20-500 MW and not just be independent of the grid, but actually help keep pollution out of the filter scrubbing piles and the air. Couple this with solar and wind to help with peak demand, and it will go far for true energy independence.

Re:Don't pay for power anymore (1)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505756)

I like that idea. I want a breeder reactor. Give me a few years and I'll teach those people down the road there to let their dog crap in my yard. I think a 2KT yield should do the trick.

Re:Don't pay for power anymore (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505766)

Security is a concern with many small reactors. It would take quite a few of them to generate sufficient energy and ever one would be a target for terrorism. All it would take is a small bomb to cripple the coolant and/or crack the containment and you have a major disaster.

I am actually for nuclear energy but on a larger scale where the risk and security is more concentrated.

Re:Don't pay for power anymore (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505954)

SWEGS [ivedc.com] seems far more likely than that. 1MW per unit (~800 homes). Renewable. Baseload. No proliferation, safety, or environmental risks. Use virtually anywhere in the world.

Re:Don't pay for power anymore (1, Interesting)

PIBM (588930) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505616)

The most commonly found here are:

Wind power
Hydro power
Solar power

Depending on where you live, scratch some off, pick one of the remaining.

Re:Don't pay for power anymore (1)

h00manist (800926) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505732)

I wonder how many kWH can people manage to produce at home with today's technologies.

Re:Don't pay for power anymore (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505830)

about 1-2 KWH if your lucky depending on location of course.

Solar can never be more than 50% efficient(sun shines for ever more than 12 hours in the majority of the USA

Wind runs about 25% efficient over a year(wind blows only so much

Hydro requires destroying thousand of acres of usually good land to create enough water pressure to function best.(Most of the natural ones are all ready being tapped )

I have looked into it over and over again. without a decent home sized electrical storage system that doesn't need a complete replacing every 5 years(that' how long batteries last folks) Solar and wiind home generation won't amount to much.

Re:Don't pay for power anymore (2)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 3 years ago | (#36506006)

Solar and wind may not be good total replacements for a connection to your local electric power utility, but they can be very good supplements if the price is right. For instance, if you live in the southern states and use a lot of A/C, you need much more power in the daytime than at night; not coincidentally, solar arrays provide all their power in the daytime. If your utility charges you different rates at different times of day, then this can be a great way of keeping your house cool in the daytime without spending a fortune in utility rates.

Also, you can build more solar generation capacity than you need, and sell the excess to the utility in the daytime (when rates are high), and then buy it back in the nighttime (when rates are low). Of course, this assumes you don't live in some shitty place where the utilities don't pay you for power you put back into the grid.

Re:Don't pay for power anymore (1)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505782)

Can't build more Dams, the greenies wont allow it. I like the idea of Solar, as soon as I come up with 30grand I'm off the grid.

Re:Don't pay for power anymore (1)

marnues (906739) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505962)

Hopefully the people whose land the dam would destroy don't want the hydroplant either. Reverse NIMBY is a common target for us "greenies".

Re:Don't pay for power anymore (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 3 years ago | (#36506106)

Or you lease the system through SolarCity, and pay your same monthly electric bill that covers the cost of your installed system. Very little to no upfront investment. Google just kicked $280 million into SolarCity for financing this sort of arrangement.

Re:Yes, the EPA (3, Insightful)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505556)

Right or wrong - the courts shouldn't be making laws - that's congress's job.

Re:Yes, the EPA (1)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505800)

hehe....I think that's what the Supremes said there. EPA is legislated by congress to manage the situation. Whether they do it or not.....

Re:Yes, the EPA (1)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505860)

Well in 2009 the EPA released a report saying - this stuff is really f-ing up the place so Congress you either create some legislation or we'll use the powers you granted to us under the Clean Air Act to regulate it ourselves.

Now if the EPA regulates it themselves then there is a chance that somebody will contest whether the Clean Air Act actually gives them that authority and if they lose then the EPA is even more toothless than it is now. If on the other hand Congress passes a law it has a better show of not being overturned and it doesn't invalidate the Clean Air Act.

Of course, Congress is heavily Republican right now and even the Democrats don't want to do something that will jeopardize commerce at this point. It's basically a political stalemate until the economy improves.

Re:Yes, the EPA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36505924)

A sues B for creating a public nuisance. Where exactly does legislation come into play?

Re:Yes, the EPA (2)

Artagel (114272) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505662)

The regulatory processes grind exceedingly slowly. If EPA rushes something, it opens itself to having its justifications found to lack substantial evidence. Also, if it proposes rules that are too strict, it could goose Congress into taking the matter off of EPA's plate. Also, if you are Obama, this is something for your second term. Doing something fast that turns out to be unpopular could be his undoing. So I expect the Notice to be released mid-November, 2012.

Re:Yes, the EPA (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 3 years ago | (#36506088)

Also, if you are Obama, this is something for your second term. Doing something fast that turns out to be unpopular could be his undoing. So I expect the Notice to be released mid-November, 2012.

So far, I haven't seen Obama do much to make himself popular. The righties all hate him just because he's not a Republican, and his own base isn't too happy with him because he turned into Bush-lite as soon as he got elected. The Dem voters seem to be split between those who are pissed at him because he lied to them about hope & change and then didn't change anything, and those who blindly support him and make up all kinds of crazy excuses for his lack of change that he promised.

I'm hoping the Dems will nominate someone else in their primaries, but right now things aren't looking good because it looks like we'll have a race between Obama and Sarah Palin, and Palin just might win because of the Dem voters being fractured by Obama's terrible performance, or by the Dems not bothering to show up if Obama gets the nomination.

Remember, back during the Bush years, I didn't have to worry much about my 6-year-old being molested at the airport. Now with Obama in charge, I do.

GLOBAL WARMING IS A COMMUNIST TRICK (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36505466)

Jesus told me so

Well well... (2, Insightful)

CCarrot (1562079) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505530)

...sometimes they actually get it right. Sort of.
Go figure.

Now if they could only figure out that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant, and therefore does not fall under the Clean Air Act either...

CO2 is not a pollutant, no... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36505642)

But would you be willing to breath an atmosphere that was 100% carbon dioxide? No?
g=

Re:CO2 is not a pollutant, no... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36505736)

Would you be willing to breath an atmosphere that was 100% Nitrogen?

Re:CO2 is not a pollutant, no... (2, Insightful)

CCarrot (1562079) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505744)

But would you be willing to breath an atmosphere that was 100% carbon dioxide? No?
g=

Er, no, however one that was 100% oxygen (or pretty much any gas) would be just as toxic for you and me...should the Clean Air Act cover oxygen emissions as well?

Re:CO2 is not a pollutant, no... (2)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505802)

It does cover ozone.

Re:CO2 is not a pollutant, no... (1)

CCarrot (1562079) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505992)

It does cover ozone.

Touche.

Perhaps the EPA's real intent is to be able to control all the world's diamonds, then? After all, they're carbon too, just in a different arrangement...;)

Re:CO2 is not a pollutant, no... (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 3 years ago | (#36506112)

Ozone isn't "oxygen". When discussing the atmosphere, the term "oxygen" (as in "atmospheric oxygen") refers to O2, not just any compound that happens to have oxygen atoms.

It's just like how the term "hydrogen", in many contexts, is different from "deuterium" or "tritium".

Re:CO2 is not a pollutant, no... (4, Insightful)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505922)

If companies were dumping enough oxygen into the air for it to be a threat to our quality of life, then yes.

Re:CO2 is not a pollutant, no... (2)

CCarrot (1562079) | more than 3 years ago | (#36506084)

If companies were dumping enough oxygen into the air for it to be a threat to our quality of life, then yes.

Afraid the trees and other assorted greenery have that covered...damn things are always trying to blow us up, consuming all that safe, inert CO2 and pumping out all that highly flammable and explosive O2...;)

Re:Well well... (3, Insightful)

matty619 (630957) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505806)

Now if they could only figure out that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant, and therefore does not fall under the Clean Air Act either...

Well, anything is a pollutant in high enough quantities, but sometimes the cure is worse than the disease. The climate WILL change. If not from AWG, then from something else. Perhaps a meteor strike, or a massive volcano, or decreased/increased solar activity. Better to focus on creating an upwardly mobile society that can more easily adapt to these inevitable changes than to risk making society poorer and therefore less able to adapt. Within reason of course. Not to advocate for slash and burn in the name of economic expansion, but we're not ready to run our economies on windmills and horse manure yet.

Re:Well well... (1)

CCarrot (1562079) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505894)

The climate WILL change... Better to focus on creating an upwardly mobile society that can more easily adapt to these inevitable changes than to risk making society poorer and therefore less able to adapt.

It's nice to hear a voice of reason on these boards every so often ;)

If only we could stop making our kids neurotic about how much carbon daddy's lawn mower is emitting, and get back to making them neurotic about how many starving kids that leftover meatloaf mommy just threw out could have fed...at least the starving kids is a real, tangible (and heartbreaking) issue.

Re:Well well... (1)

marnues (906739) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505998)

No, the crappy motor in the lawn mower is real and tangible. It's not heartbreaking though, the strawman is quite sad. Starving Ethiopians are not tangible.

Re:Well well... (1, Flamebait)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505898)

Now if they could only figure out that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant, and therefore does not fall under the Clean Air Act either...

Well, anything is a pollutant in high enough quantities, but sometimes the cure is worse than the disease. The climate WILL change. If not from AWG, then from something else. Perhaps a meteor strike, or a massive volcano, or decreased/increased solar activity. Better to focus on creating an upwardly mobile society that can more easily adapt to these inevitable changes than to risk making society poorer and therefore less able to adapt. Within reason of course. Not to advocate for slash and burn in the name of economic expansion, but we're not ready to run our economies on windmills and horse manure yet.

Sure, and the human race could go completely batshit insane and commit mass suicide. Why don't you test this theory first on yourself?

It's Not Easy Being Green (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36505584)

With apologies to Kermit and the rest of the at risk biomass, I humbly submit, World's oceans in 'shocking' decline [bbc.co.uk] .

Re:It's Not Easy Being Green (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505742)

The destruction of the biological health of the ocean is probably the most serious environmental issues facing our world right now, and a far more serious problem than global warming.

Re:It's Not Easy Being Green (1)

marnues (906739) | more than 3 years ago | (#36506020)

And all the anti-greenies are silent on this topic. Predictable?

Checks and balances, not greenhouse gases (5, Insightful)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505612)

This is an interesting ruling to me in that it is more about the balance of power between the three branches of government than it is about the subject of the lawsuit, greenhouse gases in this case.

It has become fairly common for activists to seek court orders to impose their pet issues rather than go through the incredibly slow sausage-making process of legislative reform. This ruling is a smackdown from the Supreme Court saying "no, you six states cannot get a judge to rewrite environmental policy for you. If you want a policy change, you have to do it the old-fashioned way, by getting Congress to tell the EPA what to do. That's why you states have representatives in Congress in the first place."

Regardless of how one feels about CO2 emissions regulation, I think it is none the less a Good Thing that SCOTUS has blocked off this back channel to overriding the normal policy-making process. It's not a sweeping ruling but it is a precedent. Also interesting is that here we have a clear case of the judiciary ruling to limit the power of ... the judiciary. Kind of. How often do you see something like that?

Re:Checks and balances, not greenhouse gases (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36505640)

I dont recall congress having the right to regulate the air being anywhere in the constitution....

Re:Checks and balances, not greenhouse gases (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505676)

Interstate Commerce, as always.

It could also be said that air quality falls under general welfare since we have to breathe the stuff.

Re:Checks and balances, not greenhouse gases (1)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505814)

That old document? We just reinterpret it to mean what we wan...er....what the founders actually meant to say.

Re:Checks and balances, not greenhouse gases (4, Insightful)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505664)

Well said. Some people may react strongly because it is something they believe in but we never want to let the court system override the legislative process because next time it might not be something that we all like so much.

Re:Checks and balances, not greenhouse gases (2)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505960)

Of course, this is the same court that brought us such wonderful decisions as Citizens United. They're quite happy to override the legislative system whenever it suits them.

A history of wisdom (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#36506074)

The same court that upheld the freedom of speech instead of the freedom to censor?

Not seeing an issue, other than they continue to make wise choices. And in the case of the decision mentioned in the article , the choice was unanimous...

Re:Checks and balances, not greenhouse gases (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36505718)

Great, except that the courts were essentially the last place anyone who isn't a massive corporation could go to fight this kind of shit. What the SCOTUS continues to do with rulings like this is exactly what they were bought and paid for by big business to do (and probably what you are paid by big business to say here): eliminate every opportunity for individual citizens or non-corporate entities to affect public policy. The idea that environmentalists simply need to go through the legislative process is astonishingly naive, and assumes that there exists some kind of legislative process that anyone who isn't a multi-billion dollar corporation can actually participate in.

This is just another decision favoring big business over individuals, and every politician, libertardian and business executive across the country is celebrating today because it means they will continue to enjoy many more years of socializing the external costs of their businesses, while privatizing the profits.

Re:Checks and balances, not greenhouse gases (2)

Xaedalus (1192463) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505778)

Cool story, bro. After reading this, I feel like a koala just farted a rainbow in my brain.

Re:Checks and balances, not greenhouse gases (1)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505808)

If you don't like how the government is set up then you either need to move or try to start a revolution to get a new Constitution. The checks and balances exist for a very good reason.

And these weren't individuals suing - they were states. To me this is probably more about states' rights than anything else. The states want to regulate the stuff themselves instead of relying on the EPA. Which sounds like a good idea until you get a nutty governor who decides that it is perfectly fine to drain every resource from their land.

Re:Checks and balances, not greenhouse gases (0)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505938)

Please, for the good of America. Shoot yourself. Now.

Re:Checks and balances, not greenhouse gases (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505774)

It's not a sweeping ruling but it is a precedent. Also interesting is that here we have a clear case of the judiciary ruling to limit the power of ... the judiciary. Kind of. How often do you see something like that?

It's not a precedent, nor is it particularly new. The Supreme Court has been handing issues back to the Legislative Branch for decades. For just one example, that's why nobody has sued any of the major sports leagues for monopolistic practices since (IIRC) the 50's... It was tried multiple times, but the Court consistently ruled that was an issue of interstate commerce and that Congress was the place to seek remedies - not the Court.

Re:Checks and balances, not greenhouse gases (2)

marnues (906739) | more than 3 years ago | (#36506092)

This is true, but I think the spin is incorrect. I'm part of an organization that has worked with this lawsuit in the past and the entire point was that Congress's answer has been "The EPA is responsible", and the EPA's retort is "we don't have the power". This lawsuit was a win-semi-win for us as we have removed one of the branches from the equation. I believe the next action _is_ suing the EPA with the precedent that this is their job firmly established.

this is a rejection of the "state's rights" view (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36505626)

Clearly, if CA and others could overrule the Fed. government and force additional regs on industry, then Texas and Louisiana could do the opposite.

Re:this is a rejection of the "state's rights" vie (1)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505848)

I'm wondering about this anyway. Don't the States license these plants? I know the State legislature here went round and round about the last big power plant they built here. We've got something called the Public Services Commission that decides how much they can charge for power.

This ruling limits rights, nothing to do with air (2)

fortfive (1582005) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505804)

The ruling states that the CAA "displaces" the plaintiff's rights to sue. Meaning that now, we all have fewer rights to sue under the common law, even if the emitters are unequivocally imposing on our rights, such as that to clean air. And this could be applied elsewhere, including, say, contaminated drugs, if SCOTUS were to find the federal law had "displaced" our common law rights.

I find that limiting, not empowering.

Get 'er done (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36505826)

So SCOTUS has now ruled that private individuals cannot sue to get some thing done because a federal agency -- one that for decades has been utterly unable to fulfill its mission -- exists with a responsibility for that thing. Imagine if they had decided that school segregation was a matter best left to the appropriate agency.

States Rights? (1)

acoustix (123925) | more than 3 years ago | (#36505854)

This is an odd ruling. Where does it state in the Constitution, Bill of Rights, Amendments, or any other federal documents that the federal government has sole authority over environmental protection? Surely this can't be considered interstate commerce since we're talking about individual states.

I'm not a believer of man made global warming so I have mixed emotions on this. States should be able to set stricter laws and regulations on activities within their border as they see fit. It shouldn't matter if it is the environment or immigration. We already have this with road use regulations, health care, etc.

The United States is not a country of the masses. It is an alliance of individual states. It is sad that most people (especially the federal government) forget this.

Re:States Rights? (1)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 3 years ago | (#36506018)

The United States is not a country of the masses.

See what you did there? "The United States is". People used to write "These United States are". They haven't done so in a long time, because the US has been a de facto single entity for over a century. And that's a good thing. We need a central government with the strength to compete in an increasingly connected world. Even in the status quo, we are overwhelmed by the power of corporations. Our nation would be a 2nd world joke if we were to be dragged back to the 19th century way of doing things.

Re:States Rights? (2)

marnues (906739) | more than 3 years ago | (#36506100)

Pollution has been extensively documented to cross state lines. Of course this is an interstate commerce issue. I'm surprised this comment needs to be stated.

Did the states pass additional regulations? (3, Insightful)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 3 years ago | (#36506042)

I am confused by the article. It could mean one of two very different things:

1) The states passed laws requiring the corporations to cut their emissions even further than what the EPA required. The companies did not comply so the states sued. The Supreme Court ruled that the state laws do not trump the federal law, so they cannot be enforced.

-- OR --

2) The states sued the companies for damages, even though the companies complied with the federal law.

The implications are very different. The first one would surprise me: it seems like a states rights issue. States often times impose local environmental restrictions that may be beyond the federal requirements. If it was the latter, then I am not surprised. This happens all the time with anything where there is any form of regulation or standard practice. If the entity is following the regulation or best practice, they are generally immune from suits. Ex: Suppose a boat captain requires everyone to wear a life jacket, properly maintains the boat according to all the rules, has coast guard inspections, training, certificates, etc.... the captain is probably not liable if the boat catches fire and kills someone . Often times the regulatory body gets sued instead. In the above example, the coast guard may be sued for having lax rules.

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