Record Display for the EPA National Library Catalog
RECORD NUMBER: 303 OF 599
|OLS Field Name||OLS Field Data|
|Main Title||Global warming : the litigation heats up /|
|Publisher||Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress,|
|Subjects||Greenhouse gases--Law and legislation--United States. ; Air--Pollution--Law and legislation--United States. ; Global warming--Government policy--United States.|
|Collation||CRS-20 ; 28 cm.|
"Updated April 3, 2006." Footnotes.
The scientific, economic, and political questions surrounding global warming have long been with us. This report focuses instead on a relative newcomer: the legal debate. Though the first court decisions related to global warming appeared over a decade ago, such litigation has proliferated in recent years. The court cases, decided and pending, address four principal issues. First, a two-parter, is whether EPA has the authority under the Clean Air Act (CAA) to regulated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, from either stationary or mobil sources. The second part: If EPA has such authority, does the state of scientific knowledge about GHGs and global warming, and EPA's past pronouncements on the topic, create a statutory duty on EPA's part of act? The D.C. Circuit recently rejected an effort by 12 states to compel EPA rulemaking restricting GHG emissions from new motor vehicles - one judge citing EPA discretion in light of policy considerations; the other, lack of petitioner standing. This decision is on petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court. Second, is state regulation of GHG emissions from motor vehicles preempted by federal law? In California, Vermont, and Rhode Island, car dealers and their trade associations have challenged recently adopted state regulations imposing limits, beginning in model year 2009, on emissions of GHG emissions from cars and light-duty trucks. Third, independent of any statue, can the common law of nuisance be used to force cutbacks in GHG emissions? Invoking nuisance law, eight state, New York City, and several non-governmental organizations sued five electric utility companies, chosen as allegedly the five largest CO2 emitters in the U.S. The district court rejected the suit on political question grounds, and plaintiffs have appealed. And fourth, do the alleged global warming impacts of federal agency actions allow a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) challenge? NEPA lawsuits involving global warming date back to 1990. In the most recent action, now pending, environmental groups and the City of Boulder, Colorado sued federal agencies on the ground that they were not assessing the global warming impacts of overseas projects made possible through their efforts. Finally, the report discusses whether the United States, as a major emitter of GHGs that has declined to participate in the Kyoto Protocol, could be sued under international law for global warming pacts. One such claim has been filed. Overall, it seems that plaintiffs pressing the environmental side of the argument in the pending cases face an uphill climb. In most of their cases, establishing standing and making the required showing of causation has been or will be a significant hurdle, given the nascent state of global warming science. Moreover, these issues and others suggest that adjustments in the law itself may be required if it is to address a problem such as global warming, where countless individual actions combine inseparably to cause a long-term, global problem.