The grand total is 16 separate challenges to EPA’s endangerment finding, according to Greenwire. I’m not one of those lawyers who regularly bash the legal profession. I still recall my law school professor, Henry Hansmann, stating that the role of lawyers is in fact to be transaction-cost minimizers, and I think that that is largely true. That being said, I am certainly wondering what all of this litigation is about.

The endangerment finding is basically a scientific determination. As I have previously noted, EPA discretion in this area is substantial and the likelihood that a court would reverse EPA’s scientific determination seems about as close to zero as possible. Apparently, some of the law suits do not attack the underlying scientific underpinnings of the determination, but instead attack EPA’s procedures for carrying it out or the expected regulatory and thus economic implications of the finding. If possible, these seem even less likely to succeed.

Finally, before we get to the merits of either of these arguments, there are substantial standing questions, given that the endangerment finding itself imposes no regulatory requirements on any of the plaintiffs.

It is more likely that these law suits are tactical in nature, filed as part of the broader battle to stop EPA from using existing Clean Air Act authority to regulate GHGs. I support that battle in that I agree that regulation under existing authority will be a nightmare. However, I think it’s a losing battle and I don’t see the litigation challenging the endangerment finding as likely to help in any case.

Hope springs eternal, I suppose.