Court Should Rule Congress Decides EPA Regulations, Not States

NCPA Scholar urges Supreme Court to reign in states


DALLAS (November 29, 2006) - The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments today from several states and environmental groups who are claiming the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must regulate gas emissions from new cars and trucks in an effort to prevent global warming.  Yet National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) Senior Fellow H. Sterling Burnett notes that only Congress maintains the constitutional power to direct such efforts. 

"The courts should stop the states from usurping the power of Congress in these matters," said Burnett.  "The EPA receives its power from Congress, not the states or the Courts." 

The federal Clean Air Act authorizes the EPA to regulate emissions which "cause, or contribute to, air pollution which may be reasonably anticipated to endanger public health or welfare."  However, with a lack of consensus in the scientific community on the effect of carbon dioxide emissions, the EPA maintains that it cannot regulate them.

Several states and environmental groups filed suit against the EPA in order to use the judicial branch to mandate the creation of carbon dioxide emissions regulations.  Last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals dismissed the case, siding with the EPA.  The states and environmental groups then petitioned the Supreme Court to hear the case. 

"If Congress decides that carbon dioxide emissions present a threat to the American people, then they can pass a law authorizing the EPA to regulate it," said Burnett.  "Until then, the judicial branch should maintain the integrity of the Constitution and leave legislating to the legislature."

The NCPA will soon release a new study examining the current state of air quality and the degree to which current pollution levels pose health risks.  The report will also evaluate societal costs of air regulations.