Feds, states, and interest groups face off in court over carbon dioxide

An epic environmental case got a day in court on Friday, as a coalition of 12 states, several cities, and 13 nonprofit organizations squared off against the federal government, 11 states, and 19 industry groups before a panel of three judges in a federal appeals court. At issue is the U.S. EPA’s authority to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act. The Bush administration and its allies say the agency has no such authority. The plaintiffs say that’s bunk, noting that the act calls on the EPA to regulate any pollutant that “may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare,” and that it even specifically mentions “climate.” Said the plaintiffs’ lead lawyer, James R. Milkey, “You don’t have to look far to find the authority that the EPA says is missing.” The judges may take months to issue an opinion, and that opinion will surely be appealed.