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E-M:/ Sierra Club et al. Take Global Warming to High Court



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Enviro-Mich message from "Anne Woiwode" <Anne.Woiwode@sierraclub.org>
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 31 August 2006
Contact: Josh Dorner, 202.675.2384 (w), 202.679.7570 (m)
Media contacts for other participants available.

  Powerful Coalition Petitions Supreme Court to Order EPA to Obey the Law
       Sierra Club, Nineteen States and Cities, and Numerous Others
         File Opening Briefs Seeking Enforcement of Clean Air Act

(Washington, DC)--Today a vast coalition of the Sierra Club, states,
cities, political leaders, other environmental groups, and utilities filed
opening briefs with the Supreme Court in the most far-reaching global
warming case to be heard by the nation's highest court.  The Court's
decision in the case, Massachusetts et al. v. Environmental Protection
Agency et al., could have a potentially decisive impact on federal, state,
and local efforts to tackle global warming.  The Sierra Club, the twelve
states involved, and the numerous other petitioners have taken this case to
the high court to force EPA to comply with the Clean Air Act's provisions
requiring it to regulate any air pollutant that "endanger[s] public health
or welfare."

"For six years, the Bush administration and its friends in Congress have
fought tooth and nail to avoid doing anything to fight global warming,"
commented Carl Pope, Sierra Club's Executive Director.  "We cannot wait for
EPA to start following the law and take the important steps it must to
fight global warming.  We are confident that the Court will tell EPA to
stop making excuses and rewriting the law as the administration sees fit
and start working to protect the American people."

A Wide Coalition of Groups Come Together to Fight EPA's Refusal to Protect
the Public

This case has brought together a powerful coalition that is committed to
compelling EPA to follow the law.  Because the case includes a challenge by
the auto industry and others to the strict clean car laws enacted by
California (and subsequently adopted by eleven other states), those states
(Ore, Wash., Conn., Ill., N.M., Maine, Vt., N.J., N.Y., R.I., and Mass.)
are also party to the case.  Joining those states are New York City,
Baltimore, and Washington, D.C.  The Sierra Club, International Center for
Technology Assessment, and the Natural Resources Defense Council have been
leading the coalition of thirteen environmental groups that are also
parties to the case.

"The City of New York is proud to have joined in this appeal as part of my
commitment to heed science - not political science - and try to counteract
global warming," said New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. "Climate
change, rising sea levels, and increased storm surges attributable to
growing greenhouse gas emissions put New Yorkers and New York's
infrastructure at risk and pose serious challenges for our City's future.
Global warming threatens New York City and every city, and it is our duty
to use this case and every other opportunity we have to prevent the
situation from getting even worse."

A similarly impressive coalition has also joined the case as amici/friends
of the court.  Six additional states (Ariz., Iowa, Minn., Wis., Md., and
Del.), as well the U.S. Conference of Mayors are part of this group.
Understanding that market uncertainty represents a significant threat to
their business, two utilities--Calpine and Entergy--have also joined.  The
other amici include a diverse array of groups and individuals, including
former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, four former EPA
administrators, Alaska tribal groups, hunter and angler groups, religious
groups, the Aspen Skiing Company, and many others.

EPA Plays Word Games with the Clean Air Act

The case hinges on EPA's specious claim that the Clean Air Act does not
give it the authority to regulate global warming pollutants like carbon
dioxide--and, as a backup, that even if it did that it would not be a good
idea.  As the petitioners' brief states, this argument is clearly
contradicted by the plain language found in the statute.  The statute
explicitly states that effects on "weather...and climate" are two of the
many criteria that define a negative impact on the public's welfare.  The
petitioners' brief also assails the EPA for attempting to rewrite the law
by misdefining or redefining various terms within the statute, including
simple words such as "any," "including," and "climate."

"Global warming clearly poses an extraordinary danger to public health and
welfare," said David Bookbinder, Sierra Club Senior Attorney.  "The Clean
Air Act makes it quite clear that greenhouse gases are pollutants and that
EPA must take steps to protect the public's health and welfare from air
pollutants.  We are not asking for radical action by the Court; we are
simply asking it to make EPA to live up to its obligations under the law."

History and Background of the Case

This case has been working its way through the courts since 2002.  In 1998,
the EPA's General Counsel found that it had the authority to regulate CO2
as an air pollutant.  The CTA, Sierra Club and a coalition of groups then
petitioned the EPA in 1999 to set emissions limits for CO2.  The EPA failed
to respond after 3 years, resulting in the 2002 lawsuit.  After the EPA
issued a decision denying the petition to regulate CO2, the case moved to
the U.S Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.  An odd 2-1 decision in
favor of the EPA--with one judge concurring simply because since global
warming impacts everyone, the Sierra Club et al. could not establish
standing due to "particularized injury"--was issued in July 2001.  The
Sierra Club and the other parties to the case appealed and the Supreme
Court agreed to hear the case June 26, 2006.

In addition to EPA, a group of the usual suspects and some laggard states
make up the respondents.  Groups fighting to prevent action on global
warming include: the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the National
Automobile Dealer's Association, a coalition of electric utilities, and ten
states (Texas, Mich., Utah, Idaho, N.D., S.D., Alaska, Kan., Neb., and
Ohio).

Following today's filings, oral arguments will likely be heard in December.
A decision is expected in the spring.

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For more information about the case, including a primer written in plain
English, please visit:
http://www.sierraclub.org/environmentallaw/lawsuits/viewCase.asp?id=316

The briefs and other documents are available from Josh Dorner
(202.675.2384, josh.dorner@sierraclub.org)

Relevant sections of the Clean Air Act:
Section 202(a)(1):
The Administrator shall by regulation prescribe (and from time to time
revise) in accordance with the provisions of this section, standards
applicable to the emission of any air pollutant from any class or classes
of new motor vehicles or new motor vehicle engines, which in his judgment,
cause, or contribute to, air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated
to endanger public health or welfare.

Section 302(g):
The term "air pollutant" means any air pollution agent or combination of
such agents, including any physical, chemical, biological, radioactive
(including source material, special nuclear material, and by-product
material) substance or matter which is emitted into or otherwise enters the
ambient air.

Section 302(h):
All language referring to effects on welfare includes, but is not limited
to, effects on soils, water, crops, vegetation, manmade materials, animals,
wildlife, weather, visibility, and climate, damage to and deterioration of
property, and hazards to transportation, as well as effects on economic
values and on personal comfort and well-being, whether caused by
transformation, conversion, or combination with other pollutants.

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