April 26, 2017 by Ronjoy Bezbarua
(Source: Scientific American) Pres. Donald Trump’s administration has announced plans to dismantle an array of federal efforts to fight global warming, including a program to reduce carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants, a rule limiting methane gas leaks and a mandate that aggressively boosts auto emissions standards. But Trump officials face a major roadblock in their efforts, legal scholars say. It is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2009 formal “endangerment finding,” which states carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases emitted from smokestacks and other man-made sources “threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations.” This agency rule, supported by two Supreme Court decisions, legally compels the government to do exactly what its new leaders want to avoid: regulate greenhouse gases. Although EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt publicly doubts a connection between human-produced carbon emissions and global warming, any attempt to undo this rule “would be walking into a legal buzz saw,” says Michael Gerrard, faculty director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University. Endangerment is “the linchpin for everything—all of the carbon regulation under the Clean Air Act,” says Patrick Parenteau, a professor of environmental law at Vermont Law School. Read full article….