A court case launched by Massachusetts and other states against the Environmental Protection Agency back in 2003 can claim a cameo role in the Copenhagen summit on climate change.
That lawsuit called on the US government to recognize that global warming from man-made greeenhouse gases endangers Americans' health -- and that the federal government and the states therefore have the right to impose limits on that pollution.
The Bush Administration had resisted making such a declaration. But this week the Environmental Protection Agency did so, and said that if Congress doesn't enact legislation to reduce this carbon dioxide pollution from burning fossil fuels, then the federal government will do so through the EPA.
The EPA's declaration was clearly timed to show US resolve to deal firmly with climate change as President Obama prepares to travel to Copenhagen for the conclusion of the summit next week.
The case was brought in 2003 by the attorneys general of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Maine. Here's a link to a summary of the original complaint. Bay State Attorney General Tom Reilly said at the time that the federal government was dragging its heels on taking action despite its own findings that global warming poses risks to health, the environment and the economy.
Current Attorney General Martha Coakley -- who running in today's Democratic primary for the US Senate -- also pressed the case after Reilly left office. The US Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that the EPA had to make a decision on whether to regulate gas emissions from vehicles under the federal Clean Air Act. But Coakley and her colleagues argued in April 2008 that the Bush Administration was flouting that ruling, and they demanded federal action.
The Democrat-dominated Congress has taken up the issue, but the legislation is languishing in the Senate.
Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, the author of the climate bill in the Senate, said the EPA's decision in the Massachusetts case "is a clear message to Copenhagen of the Obama Administration's commitments to address global climate change."
About this blog
About James F. SmithJim Smith came home to his native Boston in 2002 to become the Boston Globe's foreign editor after spending 22 years abroad. He was previously based in Buenos Aires and Mexico City for the LA Times, and in Johannesburg, Tokyo and The Hague for the AP. In 2007 he became the Globe's national political editor, coordinating presidential campaign coverage. He is a Yale graduate, and has an MBA. He is married to Maxine Hart and has two sons, Matthew and Daniel.
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