Do you remember what you were doing a year ago? I don't either, but the U.S. Supreme Court is marking the anniversary. It was some 365 days ago that the nation's highest court issued a remarkable and unexpected (given the makeup of the court) 5-4 ruling.
In ringing terms, the court declared that the Bush Administration has the authority to issue regulations on greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks.
The Supremes: a little respect is all they want.
It's worth pointing out here that reducing the climate impacts of vehicles is not rocket science: they simply need to be more fuel efficient. And, lo and behold, that's what consumers (if not the SUV-obsessed auto industry) actually want!
According to a new poll by the Civil Society Institute, nearly half of Americans (49 percent) are "not satisfied" that "Congress did everything it could to improve fuel-efficiency rules for U.S. automakers" in its recent tightening of the standards. An amazing four out of five Americans (84 percent) think "big oil companies are currently gouging consumers at the gas pump," says the survey. Another 79 percent would support windfall profits taxes on oil companies if the money were spent for research on alternative energy.
The Supreme Court: getting tough?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did actually compile detailed climate regulations for vehicles and sent them to the White House, but they disappeared into an elephants' graveyard of orphaned mandates back in December.
"The delay here is really inexcusable," says David Baron, a managing attorney at Earthjustice in Washington, DC. "This Administration is fiddling while the planet melts."
It isn't just the Supremes who are wondering where the love went. No less than 18 states have joined together to take the EPA to court over the issue. Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley declared that the EPA was guilty of "shameful dereliction of duty," but it seems that the White House is the real culprit. There's a history there, since the EPA's career professionals are used to having their scientific work overturned from above.
We'll never cut emissions with gas-guzzling Lamborghinis, no matter how cool they are. Jim Motavalli photo.
The states are asking a federal appeals court in Washington to force the EPA to take action within two months. In its defense, the EPA says it did prepare the regs according to the mandate, and has unlimited time to actually put them in place. With a furrowed brow, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson is saying that he needs a lengthy public comment period on the implications of regulating greenhouse emissions, a slow process indeed.
Johnson says he wants to enact a broad, comprehensive greenhouse gas policy...he just wants it to take effect sometime after Bush has left office. "This is the latest quack from a lame-duck EPA intent on running out the clock," said Congressman Edward Markey (D-MA).
Enter your city or zip code to get your local temperature and air quality and find local green food and recycling resources near you.