The Supreme Court this week handed down a decision on greenhouse-gas controls that initially looked like a setback for the Environmental Protection Agency.
The EPA wanted to greatly expand the number of facilities that could be required to apply for permits for emitting carbon dioxide. The Supreme Court said no, and left the agency's authority limited to the facilities specified by the 1970 Clean Air Act — mostly power plants.
But the other question on the table was whether the EPA had the power to regulate carbon dioxide at all. It's not an artificial pollutant; it occurs in nature — many living organisms emit carbon dioxide — and it's so common that the government had to raise the limits for how much carbon-dioxide "pollution" would trigger regulation, because otherwise they'd be cracking down on virtually every building in America.
Carbon dioxide wasn't included in the Clean Air Act, which is pretty vague about exactly what substances the EPA has jurisdiction over. On this much more important point, the Supreme Court upheld the EPA's decade-old decision to grant itself more power, without seeking approval from Congress.
Carbon dioxide is on the EPA's regulatory agenda because it's supposed to be causing global warming, which is now entering its 18 straight year of not happening, in defiance of all the computer models from the 1980s and '90s.
The exact effect of carbon dioxide on climate change is under dispute even among scientists who remain convinced climate change is going to start happening any minute now. That's what got Swedish meteorologist Lennart Bengtsson excommunicated by the climate-change fanatics. He wanted more studies conducted on just how harmful carbon dioxide might be. He wrote a paper saying that if the theories about carbon dioxide were wrong, as he suspected, then climate change would be less severe than predicted, and human activity would be less of a factor. For this, he was attacked so viciously that he felt compelled to quit the group of global-warming skeptics he had joined.
Bullying behavior is all over the environmentalist movement, and it's all over the Environmental Protection Agency. The name of the game is scaring people to death so that they'll give the environmentalists and the government everything they want. Fighting back is dangerous. You can ask Mike and Chantell Sackett of Idaho about that. They resisted a crazy EPA decision that declared their property a wetland when they tried to build a house on it. They were told that if they lost in court, they'd be fined $37,000 a day for their resistance. They had to take their case all the way to the Supreme Court to win.
Thanks to this week's ruling, the idea that the EPA can expand its own powers without Congress is still in fairly good shape. Justice Antonin Scalia said the agency wanted the power to regulate 86 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions. Thanks to the ruling it lost, it will have to settle for 83 percent.
Also this week, Congress was holding hearings on inappropriate White House coordination with the EPA to help them stonewall congressional oversight. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told Congress that a bunch of important emails in the case were lost in a hard-drive crash — just like the IRS lost all those emails about Tea Party targeting in a series of freak hard-drive crashes and backup failures. Bullies of a feather flock together.
Rusty Humphries, a nationally syndicated talk-radio host, is a contributor to The Washington Times.