In Court

Published: Sunday 15 May 2005

Pointless: A US federal appeals court recently heard arguments on a five-year-old battle over whether the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the authority to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from motor vehicles. The results were as unclear as ever. The plaintiffs in the case comprise 12 states, one territory, three cities and 13 non-government organisations. They want EPA to explain why it can't regulate CO2 emissions from motor vehicles under the Clean Air Act. Supporting the Bush administration are 11 states and 19 industry groups.

The arguments centred on Section 202 of the Act, which says EPA "shall" regulate any air pollutant from any new vehicles that "may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare". Plaintiffs said any doubts in the matter were "like saying a stop sign is not specific enough". But the other side argued that the section doesn't mention CO2. If lawmakers wanted EPA to regulate motor vehicle emissions, they would have used clearer language, it reasoned. The judges are likely to take around six months to issue an opinion on the matter.

Mad cow blame: Canadian farmers have sued the country's federal government for allowing mad cow disease to destroy the country's cattle industry. They have been hit hard due to the continuing ban by the US on Canadian cattle imports and blame the government for it. The class-action lawsuits were filed in the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec. They seek at least US $5.7 billion for their estimated losses and US $81 million in punitive damages. The four similar suits are likely to be combined later.

Caviar crime: Optimus, a gourmet company based in Miami, the US, was sentenced by a US district court on April 15, 2005, on federal wildlife and smuggling charges for caviar smuggling. The company has to pay a US $1 million fine. The money will be deposited into the Lacey Act Reward Account, a fund used by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

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