I'm going to leave my progression through the science here. Today is a day of significance because of the Supreme Court decision about CO2. Here's the PDF of the decision.
This is from a case called Massachusetts vs. EPA, which was brought under the Clean Air Act. There are a number of things important in the case, but most important it says that CO2 is a pollutant - a potentially damaging pollutant. Therefore, it is in the realm of the EPA to control the pollutant to limit the damage from the pollutant. It does not require the EPA to control the pollutant, but does say that EPA has the authority. This means amongst other things, EPA potentially has something to say about transportation related CO2 emissions. This is the reason that the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers was quick to respond to Supreme Court Decision (AAM Press Release
While I do not expect that there will be sudden action by the EPA, this is a very important decision. As many of you know, states and cities have adopted their own climate policy. Now when they bring this policy to the EPA, it will be difficult to deny their efforts to enforce greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, we are likely to see state efforts to limit emissions from both the transportation and power generation sectors of the economy. To get a handle on the initiatives from the states, I suggest Professor Barry Rabe's
book Statehouse and Greenhouse
Some opinion and analysis here: Efficiency is the most powerful option we have in the short term to reduce CO2 emission. However, the efficiency must be combined with conservation. Cars, which are a major contributor to CO2 emissions, are more efficient that they were 30 years ago, but we have greeted that efficiency with sprawl and longer commutes. Therefore, those who advocate CAFE standards
as the answer to global warming are missing a major part of the equation - the way we behave. Plus, as pointed out by the automotive trade group above, solutions are needed across the economy. They are right; power generation is a greater emitter than transportation. Coal, oil, and natural gas are all important CO2 emitters. I think that this ruling will help to accelerate the development of a national policy on CO2 emission. Considering how infrequent major environmental policy is decided; this is an opportunity, and we need to use it well. We need to think how to work towards a solution, managing the climate problem. We cannot, simply, prescribe the solution.
I want to advertise my new AMS policy blog
. It updates more slowly than the WU, and has several writers. Have at it.