Climate Change on Trial: Which Way Is the Swing Vote Leaning?

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The Obama administration is on trial in the Supreme Court for its greenhouse gas emissions policy, but so far the court has been largely split on the issue. Justice Anthony Kennedy is the swing vote for the case, and it’s unclear on which side he’ll fall. Conservatives amongst the nine judges find the the Environmental Protection Agency’s moves problematic, while liberals for the most part back it, Reuters reports.

Kennedy may not be ready to announce his position as of yet, but he did speak critically on the policy and argued with  Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, who represents the Obama administration, saying that he “can’t find a single precedent that strongly supports your position,” per Reuters. The specific issue being addressed is the EPA’s threshold on emissions for various industries under the guise of the Clean Air Act.

Regardless of what the Supreme Court finds in this particular case, it will only prevent action on one small front, leaving numerous of pathways open for regulation. Based on the rhetoric from his administration recently, it seems likely that President Barack Obama will be continuing work on an emissions policy.

You really only have to look at the extensive science to understand that climate change is one of the one, two, or three biggest challenges facing this planet,” said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at a talk in Jakarta, Indonesia. “That’s why I raise the issue in nearly every single country that I visit as secretary of state.” And he’s not the only one emphasizing climate change, especially with extreme drought and fire risk in California highlighting the issues.

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