Apr 2 - Supreme Court Calls Upon EPA to Address Greenhouse Gases

There was a resounding victory in the battle against global warming today, with the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that the Environmental Protection Agency has the right to regulate greenhouse gases emitted from cars. The ruling is a strong rebuke to the Administration’s inaction on the issue and will pave the way for reductions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

Environmental advocates won on all three issues before the court. The first issue was whether states have standing to challenge an EPA decision in court. The high court clearly affirmed the rights of the states to sue. The second question was whether the EPA has the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from cars under the Clean Air Act. The court agreed that "greenhouse gases fit well within the Act's capacious definition of 'air pollutant'" and went on to say that the “EPA has statutory authority to regulate emission of such gases from new motor vehicles."

The final question before the court was whether the EPA has discretion on whether to regulate the emissions. The court held that the reasons provided by the agency for refusing to regulate these gases (including foreign policy concerns) were not adequate. Justice Stevens, who authored theThe majority opinion, stated the "EPA has offered no reasoned explanation" for its refusal and ordered the EPA to reevaluate its position in the scope of the Clean Air Act.

This case will also offer a significant boost to California's efforts to curtail global warming. The state is being sued by automobile manufacturers over its attempts to impose stricter regulations over greenhouse gases. The manufacturers’ claim that carbon dioxide isn’t an air pollutant under the Clean Air Act will be undermined by today's Supreme Court ruling.

Although the ruling doesn't require greenhouse gas regulation, it adds to the mounting pressure on the Bush Administration to address the issue. Business leaders and each of the presidential frontrunners (both Democratic and Republican) have acknowledged that action needs to be taken to curb global warming. It is time to act to slow global warming.

Massachusetts v. EPA Decision