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Massachusetts v. EPA: The Monkey Trial of the century

Does the Clean Air Act give the EPA power to regulate greenhouse gases? If so, can the EPA avoid exercising that authority simply because it doesn't want to? These are the two primary questions David Bookbinder, senior attorney for the Sierra Club, wants the U.S. Supreme Court to answer when Massachusetts v. EPA goes to trial in December.

The trial has the potential of delivering an immense impact to the environment. Last Sunday, Newsweek's Debra Rosenberg conducted an interview with Mr. Bookbinder. Excerpts of that interview can be found here while some notable points of the interview are as follows.

When asked about the potential of the Supreme Court to sidestep the case and rule on mere technicalities, Mr. Bookbinder said, "No, I don't think so. There's really no wiggle room. Either EPA has this authority or not. It's a very plain language case."

As for the impact on states and cities, Mr. Bookbinder says, "It will be very difficult for California, whose authority also comes from the Clean Air Act, to say they have authority to regulate greenhouse gases if the EPA does not." However, he also states that the outcome of the case should not affect the bill passed last week by California's legislature curbing emissions of power plants and factories.

When speaking on the diversity of their supporters Mr. Bookbinder also notes that they include two of the largest power generators in the U.S. - Entergy and Calpine. The reason for their support, he states, is "They say we are building the next generation of power plants and we'd like to have some certainty."

[Source: Newsweek via MSNBC]

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