Update from Kate Sheppard in Mother Jones:
The Obama administration didn’t have to weigh in on the case at all, which makes its intervention all the more aggravating for environmentalists. “At the very least, they could have stayed out of it,” said Jonathan Zasloff, a law professor at UCLA. Letting the case go forward could also create a greater impetus for legislative action on climate change, something the administration has maintained is its preference anyway, and given it more bargaining power over polluters.
Instead, Zasloff notes that the administration is basically giving big emitters an escape route, as utilities (including some of those involved in this case) are expected to challenge and attempt to delay the EPA regulations every step of the way. This will, of course, make it more difficult for the agency to accomplish what it says it will do. By siding with them in this case, Zasloff says, “essentially the Obama administration and the solicitor general appear to have made their own lives a lot more difficult.”
WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) – President Barack Obama’s administration apparently agrees with a recent federal appeals court’s decision that said lawsuits are not the proper way to regulate air quality.
Also see this article in the New York Times:
The Obama administration has urged the Supreme Court to toss out an appeals court decision that would allow lawsuits against major emitters for their contributions to global warming, stunning environmentalists who see the case as a powerful prod on climate change.
In the case, AEP v. Connecticut, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with a coalition of states, environmental groups and New York City. The decision, handed down last year, said they could proceed with a lawsuit that seeks to force several of the nation’s largest coal-fired utilities to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
The Obama administration riled up environmental groups by siding with big utilities in a lawsuit over whether states can sue power plant operators for contributing to climate change. It isn’t that the administration is in favor of unfettered emissions. The Department of Justice brief, filed with the Supreme Court this week (Click here to read the administration’s brief – pdf), says the Environmental Protection Agency is already on the job, and doesn’t need help from private plaintiffs.
Also read from yesterday: Obama Admin Urges Supreme Court to Vacate Greenhouse Gas ‘Nuisance’ Ruling – NYTimes.com.