Today, we interrupt our regularly scheduled griping to bring you some excellent (!!!) news for climate change progress and for cleaner air standards.
Yesterday, a federal appeals court ruled 3 – 0 in favor of EPA. in four cases challenging the regulation of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. As reported by U.S. News & World Report,
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington said that the Environmental Protection Agency was “unambiguously correct” in using existing federal law to address global warming, denying two of the challenges to four separate regulations and dismissing the others.
The ruling dishes out a heavy blow to Republicans and climate-change deniers who asserted that EPA was overstepping its bounds by regulating greenhouse gases through existing climate change regulation.
In addition to clarifying that EPA does, in fact, have jurisdiction to use existing legislation to regulate greenhouse gases, the ruling also spoke to those who challenged the scientific integrity of EPA’s work. In what may take a new place among my list of favorite lines from awesome court decisions, the judges completely validated the science behind EPA’s work and even spoke to those who claim that there are too many uncertainties in climate models, saying:
“This is how science works,” the unsigned opinion said. “EPA is not required to re-prove the existence of the atom every time it approaches a scientific question.”
(Personally, I’d like to know if anyone in North Carolina was paying attention to that statement.)
Although industry groups state that they will continue to fight the regulations (stating the usual “oh no it’s going to hurt the economy,” because clearly that’s what happened when we passed the Clean Air Act the first time around… ), it’s interesting to note that these views don’t actually represent the American public as a whole. Rather, polls conducted by the American Lung Association show that American support for clean air standards is both widespread and – shockingly – bipartisan. In these polls, fully 72% of Americans (seriously, I dare you to find such strong support on virtually any other issue) support regulating carbon, after hearing both sides of the issue, and 73% said that they believe we don’t have to chose between a strong economy and safeguarding against pollution – we can do both. A two-to-one majority believe that stronger regulations will improve the economy rather than hurt it. If you want to read the full memo summarizing findings from the poll, it’s available here.
With both strong public support as well as the unequivocal support of the courts, maybe EPA will finally be able to move forward with updating clean air standards, after all. We can always hope, right?