If the Supreme Court rules that CO2 does not have to be regulated, it will give the present administration cover to do nothing for two more years. However, most serious candidates for president support action to curb greenhouse-gas emissions, so regardless, I suspect you’ll see action in the next administration.

If the Supreme Court rules that CO2 can be regulated, the administration will … do nothing for two more years. But again, the next president will likely take some action.

If the Supreme Court rules that CO2 must be regulated, the administration will drag its feet and … end up doing nothing for two more years. But again, the next president will likely take some action.

Thus, regardless of what the court rules, we will have to wait for ’09 to see any action on emissions reductions — but we’ll see action then regardless of what the court rules.

Counterpoint: Why the Supreme Court case is a big deal

While this case won’t compel the present administration to do anything about climate change, it does do one thing that’s extremely important: it keeps the issue in the news.

There’s nothing the Bush administration would like more than to see global warming disappear as a news item. Every time the issue is in the news, the general public becomes a little more familiar with it and a little more uncomfortable with the implications. The constant barrage over the last year of Katrina, melting ice in the Arctic (and drowning polar bears), and Al Gore’s movie has served to keep AGW in the news and help generate a growing wave of awareness. This case will continue that trend and help build an even larger sense that something must be done.