Supreme Court Victory: EPA can control CO2 as a pollutant!

The US Supreme Court today ruled 5-4 in Massachusetts et al. vs. the EPA et al. (graphic) in favor of the 12 states who had brought the suit against the EPA and the Bush Administration. The justices in the narrow majority were: Stephen G. Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Anthony Kennedy, David H. Souter, and John Paul Stevens, who wrote the opinion for the majority. In specific, the court said 1) the EPA can regulate tailpipe emissions of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, and 2) the states do have standing to bring suit in this matter. On a third question, whether the EPA can chose not to regulate tailpipe emissions, the justices sent the matter back to the EPA for re-evaluation.

The court’s four conservative justices–Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas–dissented (not surprisingly). There were deep divisions between the two sides on the issue of standing, i.e., does the state of Massachusetts (and the others who joined the suit: 11 other states and 13 environmental groups) actually have a right to bring suit. The majority said they did, while the minority said they didn’t. Here is some more detail on the outcome in the New York Times (plus analysis on April 3[.pdf], and the Washington Post. There are some more links on Dave Roberts blog from from Grist. Here is some more detail on the verbal argument in the court that occurred last fall from the New York Times.


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