The Supreme Court will hear arguments Monday in a challenge by industry groups and conservative states to the Environmental Protection Agency’s initial greenhouse gas rules for large pollution sources like power plants and factories.
The justices are exploring whether EPA, early in the Obama administration, erred by deciding that regulation of vehicle tailpipe emissions triggered greenhouse gas permit requirements for these big stationary polluters.
On its face the case is pretty narrow. It’s not about EPA’s underlying authority to regulate heat-trapping emissions, and it’s not about upcoming carbon dioxide standards for power plants.
Instead it centers on a Clean Air Act permitting program that requires large new and modified pollution sources to take steps to limits emissions. (In practice this has meant improvements in energy efficiency that many companies were undertaking anyway, the head an association of state regulators said last October when Supreme Court announced it would hear the case.)
But the stakes ““ political and otherwise ““ are nonetheless high and the case has attracted heavy involvement from regulated industries, environmentalists, and states that are both attacking and defending EPA.
As the Associated Press notes in a story on the case: “[A] court ruling against EPA almost undoubtedly would be used to challenge every step of the agency’s effort to deal with climate change, said Jacob Hollinger, a partner with the McDermott Will and Emery law firm in New York and a former EPA lawyer.”
Harvard University law professor Richard Lazarus, a longtime expert on environmental law, tells The Washington Post that if EPA loses, “you can be sure the court’s decision will be read as a repudiation of what Obama’s doing.”
But the same Post table-setter on the case notes that an EPA victory could be read as an affirmation of President Obama’s push to tackle climate change using executive powers.
Parties challenging EPA include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, refining industry groups, power companies, the National Association of Manufacturers, and more.
A coalition of conservative states such as Texas and Alabama is also challenging EPA’s climate rules, while a separate coalition that includes California, New York and Massachusetts is defending the regulators.
The American Bar Association has a handy primer on the case and copies of all the briefs here.
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Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”
The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."