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How many different ways can they block the EPA?

19 Apr 2011  |   Mike Palamuso

Guest blog from LCV Law Clerk Emmett Pepper:

You just can't make this stuff up. For a case being argued today at the Supreme Court, two of Congress' most prominent pro-polluter lawmakers, Rep. Fred Upton and Sen. James Inhofe, have written to the U.S. Supreme Court suggesting that a lawsuit filed against several dirty coal plants for emitting carbon pollution should be tossed out because the EPA and Congress are already addressing climate change.

The case in question, American Electric Power v. Connecticut, was brought in 2004 by several states, New York City, and several land trust organizations who sued the six dirtiest coal-fired plants to get them to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The plaintiffs sued the polluters to address the harm to the states and land trust organizations that will result from sea level rise and other climate change impacts. In 2009, the Court of Appeals in the Second Circuit upheld the plaintiffs' right to sue under nuisance law based, in part, on the inaction of Congress and EPA to address harmful carbon pollution.

But Rep. Upton and Sen. Inhofe have written an amicus brief as a "friend of the court" in the case, arguing that the plaintiffs cannot sue polluters because the EPA and Congress are already acting to address climate change. In trying to help their polluter friends continue polluting, these fiercely anti-environment lawmakers have taken an extraordinarily conflicting position. The pair is essentially arguing that it's Congress that has the responsibility to set pollution limits ??? never mind the fact that Big Oil's congressional allies, like Sen. Inhofe, have worked tirelessly to block the Senate from acting on a comprehensive bill last year. The Utpton-Inhofe duo also argues that the EPA is taking steps to reduce carbon pollution ??? again, never mind the fact that these two are leading the charge to block the EPA from doing that.

These two powerful pro-polluter lawmakers are trying to have their cake and eat it too ??? blocking Congress from curbing carbon pollution, preventing the EPA from curbing carbon pollution and halting the courts from curbing carbon pollution.

Check out this editorial from today's New York Times for more.

UPDATE via the Hill's E2Wire: "Key U.S. Supreme Court justices signaled Tuesday they are inclined to give deference to the Environmental Protection Agency rather than the courts on the issue of major power companies' greenhouse-gas emissions."

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