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The Court Has a Conscience, Even if Congress Does Not

Despite pressure from big business and power companies, a federal appeals court upheld first regulations that will reduce the gases blamed for global warming. This may be the most significant decision on climate change since a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that greenhouse gases could be controlled as air pollutants.

The rules will reduce the emissions of six heat-trapping gases from large industrial facilities, as well as from car exhaust. Industry groups vow to continue the fight.

A three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals says that the Environmental Protection Agency was "unambiguously correct" in using existing federal law to address global warming, denying two of the challenges to four separate regulations and dismissing the others. The judges, one of whom was appointed by the Reagan administration, said, "We have serious doubts as to whether it is ever likely that Congress will enact legislation at all."

President Obama has been criticized by Republicans for pushing ahead with the regulations after Congress failed to pass climate legislation, which the Bush administration strongly rejected.

In the Associated Press, Dina Cappiello quotes environmentalist Carol Browner, who has worked for the Obama administration, as saying that the decision "should put an end, once and for all, to any questions about the EPA's legal authority to protect us from dangerous industrial carbon pollution," and called it a "devastating blow" to those who challenge the scientific evidence of climate change.

Cappiello quotes EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson as saying that the ruling is a "strong validation" of the EPA legislation. She quotes Jackson as saying that the court "found that EPA followed both the science and the law in taking common-sense, reasonable actions to address the very real threat of climate change by limiting greenhouse gas pollution from the largest sources."

Romney says it was a mistake for the EPA to be involved in reducing emissions of carbon dioxide.

Lawyers for the industry groups argued that the EPA should have questioned the EPA's reliance on a body of scientific evidence that included uncertainties, but the court's opinion says, "This is how science works. EPA is not required to re-prove the existence of the atom every time it approaches a scientific question."

Whitley Strieber learned about climate change in a unique way: The man he calls the Master of the Key burst into his hotel room in 1998 and told him all about it. This information became the basis his book "The Coming Global Superstorm."



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