Global Warming Case Taken Up By Supreme Court Statement of Norman Dean, Executive Director, Friends of the Earth
Friends of the Earth is pleased that the Supreme Court agreed today to decide whether the Bush Administration must regulate carbon dioxide to stop global warming. This case was brought by Friends of the Earth, twelve states, several cities and environmental groups as a result of a 2003 ruling by the Environmental Protection Agency that disavowed the agency’s jurisdiction under the Clean Air Act to regulate global warming emissions.
In August of 2003, EPA officials issued a ruling denying their authority to regulate carbon dioxide, claiming that it did not meet the Clean Air Act definition for a “pollutant.” The ruling came in response to a 1999 petition by Friends of the Earth, and other environmental organizations asking EPA to comply with the law, which requires the agency to protect Americans against all harmful pollutants, including emissions that damage the climate. In response to this ruling, Friends of the Earth and other groups and governments sued the agency.
The Supreme Court’s decision to hear this case could be a watershed moment in our fight to stop global warming. The government’s wait and see approach to global warming pollutants isn’t working. Since 1990, global warming emissions have increased by 16 percent.
Global warming has already been linked to more severe storms, including Category 4 and 5 hurricanes, floods, and droughts. Outbreaks of tropical diseases such as West Nile Virus will also increase as previously cooler climates will become breeding grounds for insect borne pests. If left unchecked, global warming will cause rising sea levels, the melting of the polar icecaps, and a host of other environmental problems that will seriously affect the lives of virtually every American. Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma caused $57.6 billion in insurance losses in 2005 – more than double 2004’s all-time record. These costs will increase if the U.S. does nothing to curb global warming.
States challenging EPA’s decision are Massachusetts, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. They were joined by a number of cities including Baltimore, New York City and Washington D.C., the Pacific island of America Samoa, the Union of Concerned Scientists, Greenpeace, and Friends of the Earth.