Cross-posted from Legal Planet.
I’ve just spent some time reading the initial briefs in the D.C. Circuit on the endangerment issue. They strike me as much more political documents than legal ones.
A brief recap for those who haven’t been following the legal side of the climate issue. After the Bush Administration decided not to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, the Supreme Court held that greenhouse gases would be covered if they met the statutory requirement of endangering human health or welfare. After much stalling by the Bush administration, EPA followed the scientific consensus by finding that (1) yes, climate change is real and caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases, and (2) that climate change would indeed harm humanity (including Americans). That determination is now being challenged by states such as Texas and Virginia and various other parties like the Chamber of Commerce.
Why do I say that the documents seem more legal than political to me? Two reasons: they rely on debaters’ points that don’t survive examination of the record, and they are crafted to appeal primarily to ideological fellow-travelers rather than the open-minded.
First, like much political argument, briefs make assertions that depend for their credibility on the unwillingness or inability of the audience to engage in fact-checking. For example, they assert that EPA delegated its decision-making to outside groups like the IPCC; it’s plain to anyone who reads the EPA ...