Skico’s side prevails in climate case |

Skico’s side prevails in climate case

Aspen Times Staffand The Associated PressAspen, CO Colorado

The Supreme Court ordered the federal government on Monday to take a fresh look at regulating carbon dioxide emissions from cars as part of a case that the Aspen Skiing Co. helped press against the Bush administration.”This is an enormous victory for the environmental community, and we played a part,” said Auden Schendler, Skico executive director of community and environmental responsibility.In a 5-4 decision, the court said the Clean Air Act gives the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to regulate the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from cars. Greenhouse gases are air pollutants under the landmark environmental law, Justice John Paul Stevens said in his majority opinion.The court’s four conservative justices – Chief Justice John Roberts and justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas – dissented.Many scientists believe greenhouse gases, flowing into the atmosphere at an unprecedented rate, are leading to a warming of the Earth, rising sea levels and other marked ecological changes.The Bush administration maintained before the ruling that the EPA had no authority to regulate greenhouse gases from tailpipes. Twelve states and 13 environmental groups that had grown frustrated with the administration’s inaction on global warming filed the lawsuit. One of the parties to the lawsuit, the Natural Resources Defense Council, asked the Skico to file a brief as a “friend of the court,” Schendler said. The NRDC asked the Skico to demonstrate how global warming could affect a ski resort.The Skico filed a brief in November noting that one study says Aspen’s ski season could be “shorn” by one week by 2030 because of rising temperatures. By 2100, Aspen’s ski season could be from four to nine weeks shorter, according to the studies the brief cited.Although the Skico played a secondary role in the argument of the case, Schendler has labeled it “the most important” action the resort operator has taken in its effort to build awareness of global warming.”We’re elated to have played a teeny part in it,” Schendler said Monday.The lawsuit placed three questions before the court:• Do states have the right to sue the EPA to challenge its decision?• Does the Clean Air Act give the EPA the authority to regulate tailpipe emissions of greenhouse gases?• Does EPA have the discretion not to regulate those emissions?The court said yes to the first two questions. On the third, it ordered EPA to re-evaluate its contention it has the discretion not to regulate tailpipe emissions.The court said the agency has so far provided a “laundry list” of reasons that include foreign policy considerations. The majority said the agency must tie its rationale more closely to the Clean Air Act.”EPA has offered no reasoned explanation for its refusal to decide whether greenhouse gases cause or contribute to climate change,” Stevens said. He was joined by his liberal colleagues, justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Souter, and the court’s swing voter, Justice Anthony Kennedy.

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