April 2, 2009 marks the second anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision, Massachusetts vs. EPA, in which the court ruled 5-4 that greenhouse gases such as CO2 can be considered air pollutants, and these emissions may be regulated by the EPA, under the provisions of the Clean Air Act. The Bush administration ignored the ruling and did not impose regulations on CO2 emissions from coal-fired power plants.
Fast-forward to now. An article by John Broder of the NYT this week discussed the likelihood that the EPA, under the guidance of Lisa Jackson, is preparing the documentation necessary to demonstrate that CO2 poses an endangerment to public health. Establishment of this “endangerment” status would pave the way for the Obama administration to impose regulations on the coal and auto industries. As for Jackson’s timetable, the Times article reports that “she pointedly noted that the second anniversary of the Supreme Court decision, Massachusetts vs. EPA, is April 2, and there is a wide expectation that she will act by then.”
Here’s a picture of the two sides engaged in the original Supreme Court case: the “petitioners” arguing in favor of the environment included 12 states, 4 cities and 13 environmental groups. The “respondents” arguing against regulation of CO2 included the Bush administration EPA, 9 states, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, National Automobile Dealers Association, Engine Manufacturers Association, Truck Manufacturers Association, CO2 Litigation Group and the Utility Air Regulatory Group. Absent from the cast of respondents is the coal industry, which is likely to vociferously obstruct any progress on this issue by the current EPA.