Only yesterday, we wrote an editorial concerning the abysmal job the Texas state government has done of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In the editorial, which argued that Texas should be held accountable for its inadequate regulation of pollution, we mentioned that the chief offender — the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality — wanted the question of whether it was required to comply with national emissions regulations to be decided in a higher court.
It seems they’ll get their wish.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would hear Texas’ challenge to federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. Texas, along with Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina and the American Petroleum Institute, claims that the Clean Air Act covers only toxic air pollutants and does not grant the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to penalize the emission of gases that contribute to the dangerous warming of the atmosphere.
The Court declined to hear several of the states’ other appeals, which will allow the EPA to continue regulating emissions from motor vehicles and certifies the EPA’s assessment of greenhouse gases as a public health risk — invalidating the plaintiffs’ arguments to the contrary. The question they did choose to debate is whether the EPA’s authority to regulate motor vehicles also extends to stationary sources of greenhouse gases, like power plants and oil refineries.
We’re not qualified enough to sift through the legal nuances of the Clean Air Act and determine the limits of federal jurisdiction. But we do know that if the federal government is not able to regulate the massive amounts of greenhouse gases pumped into Texas skies, our state certainly won’t do so itself. The Texas government has consistently shown support for big business rather than the environment — Texas leads the nation in greenhouse gas emissions, producing more than the next two states combined — and cannot be trusted to responsibly restrain major polluters from wantonly damaging our planet.
Hopefully, the Court will recognize the danger of letting Texas’ pollution continue unabated and allow the federal government to intervene.