Supreme Court Hands Obama Administration a Victory in Efforts to Curb Carbon Emissions

Most of EPA’s rules to limit greenhouse gases from power plants are upheld by high court. In a 7-2 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court today agreed the Environmental Protection Agency could force major polluters to use new and better technology to limit their emissions of carbon dioxide. But in a separate 5-4 vote, the court struck down an EPA regulation that could have extended the required greenhouse gas permits to millions of other operations. “EPA is getting almost everything it wanted in this case,” Justice Antonin Scalia said in summarizing the decision from the bench. “It sought to regulate sources it said were responsible for 86 percent of all the greenhouse gases emitted from stationary sources nationwide. Under our holdings, EPA will be able to regulate sources responsible for 83 percent of those emissions.” Los Angeles Times, The New York Times

Three Japanese automakers are recalling 2.9 million cars for potentially faulty air bags. The action — stemming from a problem with a part from Toyko-based Takata Corp. — brings the total recalls related to the air bag part to nearly 10 million vehicles over five years. Honda is making the biggest recall. Its move affects 2 million cars world-wide, including its top-sellers Accord and Civic, to fix possibly defective air bag inflators made by Takata. Nissan and Mazda also are making recalls. The latest recalls may not be the final word for Takata, one of the world’s biggest suppliers of car-safety equipment. A probe by U.S. auto safety regulators is under way and replacements are running short for the air bag inflator it sells to major car makers. No crashes or injuries are related to the latest three recalls, but the inflators potentially can explode and send metal bits flying. The Wall Street Journal, USA Today

Lawsuits mount over chemical contamination from DuPont plant in West Virginia. As of late last week, 1,300 suits were filed by plaintiffs related to pollution from the company’s Parkersburg, W.Va., plant. , and roughly 3,000 cases are expected in all. The suits allege harm from C8, or perfluorooctanoic acid, that DuPont has used to make products such as Teflon. The wave of litigation is a follow-up to a 2005 class-action settlement that funded a massive public health study that linked six diseases to C8, including kidney and testicular cancer. The settlement allowed people in the affected areas who contracted diseases to sue DuPont for personal injury. The new suits, expected to be heard by a federal judge in Columbus, Ohio, starting next year, claim that DuPont released C8 into the air and groundwater even after it knew the chemical could be hurting people. The News Journal (Wilmington, Del.)

Chemical Safety Board comes under fire from lawmakers. The board investigates major chemical accidents and makes recommendations to industry, regulators and labor groups. Ordinarily, it gets public attention only when it issues the results of a blockbuster investigation, such as its ongoing assessment of the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon rig explosion. But last week the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee released a scathing report on the board that pointed to widespread management problems. Then lawmakers on both sides of the aisle spent several hours at a hearing berating CSB’s chief, Rafael Moure-Eraso, for allegedly stonewalling outside investigations and creating a “toxic” work environment that prompted experienced employees to leave and further stalled important investigations. Greenwire, The Center for Public Integrity

Despite grave danger, a campaign to combat polio in rebel-held Syria has succeeded. Volunteers have inoculated about 1.4 million children since the beginning of the year. The reemergence of polio in Syria in October had alarmed health organizations, which feared that factors such as tainted water, dysfunctional sanitation systems and a mobile population could spread the epidemic. In response, a coalition of nonprofit groups recruited and deployed thousands of volunteers in the country’s embattled north. Four volunteers have been killed, but there has not been a confirmed case of polio in Syria in nearly five months. Separately, however, thousands of children who haven’t been immunized against polio are fleeing the Pakistani region of North Waziristan with their families to escape a military offensive, bringing new perils to a country struggling to cope with the crippling disease. The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal

Compiled by Stuart Silverstein

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