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Articles by Ian Millhiser

Ian Millhiser is a policy analyst at the Center for American Progress Action Fund and a blogger on judicial and constitutional issues for ThinkProgress.org.

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Cross-posted from ThinkProgress.

Monday morning’s Supreme Court decision in American Electric Power Co. vs. Connecticut [PDF] is undoubtedly a setback for the environment. The plaintiffs, which included several states and the city of New York, sought to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions under a legal theory known as “nuisance” which would allow federal courts to intervene against five of the nation’s worst polluters, and the justices voted eight to zero to deny federal judges that power (Justice Sonia Sotomayor was recused).

Yet there are two silver linings for environmentalists in the opinion. One is the court’s entirely sensible conclusion that the best environmental policy is made by people with actual expertise in climate science:

It is altogether fitting that Congress designated an expert agency, here, EPA, as best suited to serve as primary regulator of greenhouse gas emissions. The expert agency is surely better equipped to do the job than individual district judges issuing ad hoc, case-by-case injunctions. Federal judges lack the scientific, economic, and technological resources an agency can utilize in copi... Read more