Monday, April 02, 2007

Supreme Court Declares Breathing Pollution

The Supreme Court of the United States today makes the most pro-government ruling since Kelo v. New London. In a case narrowly argued over arcane legal points such as standing to bring suit and the right of an agency to interpret its own regulations, a 5 to 4 ruling defies the English language to establish the legal precedent that carbon dioxide is a pollutant.

It does not take a legal decree to understand that you can not pollute candy with sugar. You can not pollute bread with flour or wine with grapes and most assuredly you can not pollute air by breathing. Breathing as point source pollution is as of today, however, the law of the land. Every breath you take is fair game for regulatory control according to Justices Stevens, Kennedy, Souter, Ginsburg and Breyer.

Massachusetts v. EPA: Because greenhouse gases fit well within the Act’s capacious definition of “air pollutant,” EPA has statutory authority to regulate emission of such gases from new motor vehicles. That definition— which includes “any air pollution agent . . . , including any physical, chemical, . . . substance . . . emitted into . . . the ambient air . . . ,” §7602(g) (emphasis added)—embraces all airborne compounds of whatever stripe. Moreover, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are undoubtedly “physical [and] chemical . . . substance[s].”

This is the key point. If carbon dioxide, the chemical substance, is in any instance an air pollutant, then it must be an air pollutant in all instances. The origin of a chemical simply does not change the nature of a chemical.

Justice Scalia in dissent correctly points out that the Environmental Protection Agency guidelines charge the agency to regulate air pollutants, which by English definition of pollutant means “to make or render impure or unclean”. It is nonsense to declare that a natural and essential component of air can make air unnatural. There is no life on Earth without CO2 in the atmosphere and so this decision is neither good science, nor good law, nor common sense. This decision is a pure political play to give those who desire control over everything that lives and breaths a veneer of legitimacy. In Scalia’s words:

The Court’s alarm over global warming may or may not be justified, but it ought not distort the outcome of this litigation. This is a straightforward administrative-law case, in which Congress has passed a malleable statute giving broad discretion, not to us but to an executive agency. No matter how important the underlying policy issues at stake, this Court has no business substituting its own desired outcome for the reasoned judgment of the responsible agency.

Allapundit at Hot Air and Jonathan Alder at The Volokh Conspiracy analyzes the decision here and here as does the discussion at SCOTUSblog. My previous posts with background on this case are here, here, and here. To be perfectly upfront, I am a denier of dangerous man-made global warming and believe the changes being observed are normal variations of a planet in orbit around a star. The globalwarmists are a political movement and the Supreme Court has given them a green light to litigate every aspect of modern life based on carbon. Exaggeration you think? Well, wait and see.