Reviewing a new book that seeks to comprehensively portray Massachusetts as out of the mainstream, David Kravitz of the Blue Mass. Group catches author Jon Keller engaging in quite a bit of exaggeration in order to brand the state's landmark lawsuit against the EPA as an unduly "activist" move:
Consider the following from p. 205...
Massachusetts's most recent pushing of the envelope is a state lawsuit against the federal Environmental Protection Agency trying to mandate by court order the vehicle emission standards that the legislative and executive branches have rejected.
...The question in [Massachusetts v. EPA] was whether the EPA had the authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases emitted by motor vehicles...So what Massachusetts and the other plaintiffs did in this case is force the EPA to exercise the authority that Congress has given it. This is not a case in which courts are asked to leapfrog the legislative process (or, in Keller's words, to "mandate by court order the vehicle emission standards that the legislative and executive branches have rejected"). To the contrary, in this case the courts simply required the executive branch to do exactly what Congress -- the legislative branch -- has already told it to do, instead of making up bogus excuses.
In terms of summarizing and analyzing the case, Kravitz' analysis is spot on. However, we would also like to note, in response to any remaining implication that lonely Massachusetts was "pushing the envelope" here, that in doing so it wasn't exactly alone.
Our own amicus brief before the Supreme Court was filed on behalf of four cities and associations representing thousands of mayors, county officials, municipal attorneys and planners; other states, a bipartisan group of past EPA Administrators, and self-described "strange bedfellows" such as Entergy Corporation also were among those supporting the state's straightforward argument. Federal regulators ought to comply with federal law in tackling a very real national problem, and states and others aggrieved by their inaction have a long-standing right to hold them accountable in court when they fail to do so.