UW-Madison: UW Law School Professor Represents Scientists In Greenhouse Gas Lawsuit

CONTACT: Stephanie Tai, (608) 890-1236, [email protected]

MADISON – Stephanie Tai, an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School, is one of the lawyers representing 18 climate scientists who want the U.S. Supreme Court to have the government revisit the question of whether greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles should be regulated.

The process of putting together the amicus brief in the case teamed lawyers with some of the nation’s most prestigious climate scholars, including two Nobel laureates.

“The scientists were extensively involved in the preparation of the brief,” says Tai. “It was definitely an enlightening process to see how the scientists think differently than lawyers. In some ways, it was more restrained than if lawyers had written it, but it may have been more informative and explanatory.”

Six of the scientists submitting the brief were authors of a 2001 report on climate science requested by the president and used by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in justifying its decision to not to regulate greenhouse gases.

The lawsuit began after several states asked the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles in the same way the agency regulates other air pollutants. In refusing to regulate the gases, the agency cited the report by the National Academy of Science’s National Research Council.

In the brief, the scientists take issue with the way the EPA characterized the report and say that recent observations of the earth’s climate attributable to human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases have “crystallized a remarkable consensus within the scientific community,” which overcomes any initial skepticism.

“As practicing scientists who study the earth’s climate system, we and many in our profession have long understood that continued human-caused emission of greenhouse gases … would eventually harm the earth’s surface,” the brief states.

Tai, a new faculty member, is an expert in environmental law. She spent last year teaching law at Washington and Lee University and from 2001-05 she worked as a U.S. Department of Justice lawyer specializing in environmental and natural resources areas.

The scientists are also represented by attorneys John Dernbach of Widener University, Kirsten Engel of the University of Arizona and Robert B. McKinstry Jr. of Penn State University.

“What we hope to do is dispel any uncertainty the agency or the court may have over the contents of that report and make a clear scientific case,” Tai says, adding that the court has not yet scheduled argument in the case.

The case is Massachusetts, et al. versus Environmental Protection Agency et al., and the U.S. Supreme Court docket number is 05-1120.