U.S. cannot ignore global warming

The split of the nation’s judicial leaders on whether America needs to do something about global warming is a good thing.In a 5-to-4 decision Monday, the Supreme Court ruled the Bush administration’s Clean Air Act does allow the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate carbon dioxide emissions and berated the EPA for not attempting to regulate them in the first place.

By law, the EPA must regulate “pollutants,” but the Bush administration has said the Clean Air Act does not consider carbon dioxide a “pollutant.” The majority of the Supreme Court thought differently.

So does this mean the highest court in our nation has expressed the reality of global warming and any greenhouse gas-producing industry will suffer?

Not quite. More accurately, it has qualified the looming danger of greenhouse gases and given the EPA a chance to regulate it.

It’s a step in the right direction for the highest-producing carbon dioxide emissions nation in the world, but it’s a good thing we haven’t swung into ultra-green mode yet. There are still four significant dissents in the Court. Chief Justice John Roberts said this issue is better solved by the other two branches of government than his.

According to The New York Times report on the case, the EPA can continue to refuse to regulate carbon dioxide emissions only if it can prove they do not affect global warming or present a good reason for why “it cannot or will not exercise its discretion to determine whether they do.”

Here’s where qualifying the issue comes into play. America is the world’s superpower for one obvious reason: our developed industry. Regulating our oil refineries, car manufacturers and everything in between is a good idea in theory but needs to be looked at carefully by Congress and the executive branch.

It’s time to accept global warming as a real issue but also time to stop and consider our nation’s economy before we jump into the role of saving the world.

Features editor Amber Parcher for the editorial board.