One of the most significant transportation-related environmental cases of the year will soon come before the U.S. Supreme Court and the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) is making sure the court hears the views of the transportation construction industry.
ARTBA, in partnership with 13 other industry and trade organizations, filed a brief Oct. 24 in potentially precedent-setting litigation regarding the regulation of so-called "greenhouse gas emissions."
If enacted, any new regulations would likely result in increased prices for motor vehicles and construction equipment as well as restrictive standards which, if not met, could place federal transportation funds for numerous states and localities in jeopardy.
At issue is a 1999 petition filed by a number of environmental organizations seeking to compel the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new motor vehicle engines. The federal agency denied the petition in 2003 based on a thorough review of the Clean Air Act (CAA), stating that it "can not and should not" regulate "greenhouse gas" emissions.
The environmental groups appealed the ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. In July 2005, the court upheld the EPA decision, saying the agency was not required to regulate greenhouse gasses under the CAA. The court also noted there is "scientific uncertainty" on the issue of climate change. In response, the groups appealed to the Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case.
In the Oct. 24 brief, ARTBA said the CAA clearly gives the EPA the authority to decide what it does and does not regulate. The association argued that global-warming issues are most appropriately handled by the legislative and regulatory processes, not the courts. Specifically, ARTBA's brief noted that "attempts to apply the CAA authorities to greenhouse gas emissions would place an extraordinary burden on federal and state regulators, regulated businesses and the economy and public as a whole."
The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case early next month. A final decision is expected in 2007.