Republicans file amicus brief in Supreme Court case on energy policy

Amanda Carey Contributor
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On Monday, Republican lawmakers filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in American Electric Power Company, et al. v State of Connecticut, et al. The goal of the brief was to reiterate the authority of Congress and the executive branch to address federal climate change policy – not the judiciary.

The brief was filed by Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Ed Whitfield of Kentucky, chair of the Energy and Power Subcommittee, and Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, ranking member on the Environment and Public Works Committee. The lawmakers argue against the idea in the brief of a federal court establishing carbon dioxide emissions standards.

“This case involves political and public policy matters that are being resolved by the Legislative and Executive branches of government,” the lawmakers wrote. “These public policy determinations are necessarily within the purview of the Congress and the Executive branch, not the Judicial branch.”

The brief goes on to detail actions by various presidential administrations and Congress since the Clean Air Act was passed in 1963 to deal with energy and climate issues. According to the brief, that record shows environmental issues cannot be solved by the courts.

American Electric Power Company v Connecticut centers on whether federal law allows states and other private parties to sue utilities emitting pollutants into the air and arguably contributing to global warming. The case dates back to 2004, when eight states, including Connecticut, California, Iowa, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin, filed a complaint against five of the largest carbon dioxide emitters in the country.

Their complaints were based on reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on climate Change (IPCC) and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences that back the link between global warming and greenhouse gas emissions.

“[C]ourts are not equipped to make judgments about the appropriate emissions standards for utilities located throughout the country,” the lawmakers wrote. “Judicial establishment of such standards would violate decades of Supreme Court precedent and unconstitutionally interfere with Congressional and Executive branch efforts to address climate change-related matters.”