A federal appeals court has decided not to force the Bush administration to speed up its decision on whether carbon dioxide emissions endanger public health or welfare. The administration’s decision on CO2 is a necessary step in the process of regulating U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions from vehicles and industrial sources. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that carbon dioxide is a pollutant under the Clean Air Act, and that the U.S. EPA has the authority to regulate it. However, the court left it up to EPA to decide whether CO2 emissions endanger the public and how to regulate it. After a year with no action on the Supreme decision, 17 states and a number of environmental groups sued to prod the EPA to speed up its deliberations. The hurry-it-up petition was denied on Thursday. However, in the decision, the judge openly questioned the agency’s motivations. “EPA has postponed — now indefinitely — deciding whether greenhouse-gas emissions endanger public health and welfare, calling into question whether the agency’s desire to promulgate regulations … is simply an excuse to avoid complying with the statute,” he wrote.
Get Grist in your inbox