February 26, 2009

"Legal War on U.S. Economy": full speed ahead

By "Legal War on U.S. Economy": full speed ahead

Earlier this week, National Review Online's Marlo Lewis discussed the Center for Biological Diversity's opening of the new Climate Law Institute. He titled his post "Center for Biological Diversity Declares Legal War on Global Warming U.S. Economy, Self-Governance" and described how CBD is using several federal laws, including the Endangered Species Act, to set the nation's global warming policy through the courts, rather than through Congress.  Lewis' conclusion: 

Through litigation under the CAA and other statutes, we could end up with Kyoto-on-Steroids without the people’s elected representatives ever voting on it — and with nobody accountable to the electorate for the compliance burdens and economic fallout.

However you slice it, litigation-driven global-warming regulation threatens to short-circuit self-government and subvert the separation of powers. It is a constitutional crisis in the making.

If further evidence was needed that CBD's intent is to set global warming policy through litigation, consider that CBD announced yesterday that it intends to sue the Bureau of Land Management over its alleged failure to adequately address global warming in leasing federal lands leases:

"As California and the nation begin to address global warming, it is vital that federal agencies fully disclose and evaluate their projects’ greenhouse gas emissions," said Melissa Thrailkill, staff attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute. "Now is the time for full disclosure of the true costs of energy development on our public lands."

This latest notice of intent to sue under the Endangered Species Act comes on the heels of CBD's petitions to list the northern Rockies fisher and 42 species of spring snails as well as its dissatisfaction with yesterday's announcement by Interior that oil shale development would be blocked. Apparently, Interior should have gone further than just cancelling development leases — even researching oil shale's role in the country's energy policy is wrong. According to Thrailkill, "Oil shale is not part of a clean energy future and reissuing more [research, development, and demonstration] leases amounts to a waste of public land and money that will not help us transition away from fossil fuels."

For a private sector much in need of certainty for long-run decision making, this specter of litigation is far from helpful.

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