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EDITORIAL: Ending the global-warming argument

Leftist resort to the courts is sign of desperation

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Leftists are rushing to the judiciary as a refuge against efforts to undermine their global-warming tax schemes. In the current economic environment, the idea of massive hikes in the price of gasoline and other sources of energy has become radioactive. In response, the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Iowa, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont are hoping activist judges will enact policies that elected, accountable representatives are increasingly afraid to touch.

Congress moved this week to overturn an Environmental Protection Agency ruling meant to bring about carbon-dioxide rationing. At the same time, the seven left-leaning states argued in a brief to the Supreme Court that they have the right to sue out-of-state corporations as "public nuisances" for their crime of emitting a harmless, colorless gas that's essential for life on this planet.

According to the complaint, carbon-dioxide emissions from various power plants around the country "increase smog and heat-related mortality"; "raise sea levels, thereby inundating low-lying property such as much of New York City's infrastructure"; "lower water levels in the Great Lakes, harming commercial shipping and hydropower production in New York"; and "make it impossible for several species of hardwood trees to survive in Vermont, Connecticut, New York and Rhode Island." It goes on to claim "even one degree of global warming will double the number of heat-related deaths in New York City, to 700 per year."

Never mind that none of these calamities have actually happened, or that if they did, there would be no link to the companies under legal assault. Never mind that if the power companies were to cease operations, it's likely heat-related deaths from the lack of air conditioning would be far more real than the casualties from these imaginary catastrophes. Still, it's enough for the '60s-era radicals who traded their tie-dyed T-shirts for judicial robes that someone claiming to be a scientist says it's true. That includes people like Pennsylvania State University Prof. Michael E. Mann, who created the famous hockey-stick graph that served as the centerpiece of Al Gore's Oscar-winning global-warming infomercial, "An Inconvenient Truth."

Ever since the Climategate e-mail scandal exposed how Mr. Mann's graph used "a trick" to "hide the decline" in global temperatures, public support also has declined for the fable that cosmic irritation at mankind's exhalations has made things hotter by an imperceptible one-third of one degree over the course of a decade. In 2000, media-driven climate hysteria peaked with 72 percent of those surveyed by Gallup indicating they were worried about global warming. That number fell to 51 percent in a Gallup poll released Monday, with four in 10 Americans saying the seriousness of global warming was being exaggerated.

Lawmakers sense this skepticism in their constituents and can no longer get away with pursuing policies that sacrifice jobs and economic prosperity on the pagan altar of warmism. The House Energy and Commerce Committee voted 34-19 on Tuesday to adopt the "Energy Tax Prevention Act" which denies the EPA any authority to regulate water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane and other naturally occurring gases as if they were actual pollutants. On Tuesday, Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, promised a vote on the Senate version of the bill introduced by Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, and his 43 co-sponsors, only to retreat the next day when it became apparent Mr. Inhofe had more support than expected.

It's time for the Supreme Court to put the states' bogus argument on ice.

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