In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court today issued a “stunning rebuke” to the Bush administration and “ruled that the federal government does indeed have authority to regulate greenhouse gases linked to global warming.”
Frank O’Donnell of Clean Air Watch writes, “The Supreme Court has confirmed that carbon dioxide can be controlled under the Clean Air Act. That means California and other states have the clear right to limit greenhouse gas emissions if the Bush administration won’t.”
UPDATE: Some background: the case emerged in 2003 after the EPA rejected a petition calling for the federal government to restrict emissions of greenhouse gases — most notably, carbon dioxide. The EPA’s general counsel argued in a memo that “[carbon dioxide] and other [greenhouse gases], as such, are not air pollutants,” and “substantial scientific uncertainty” still exists about the effects of carbon dioxide on the environment.
The statement meant the Bush administration would not have to regulate carbon dioxide emissions under the Clean Air Act. The U.S. Court of Appeals upheld this view. (The Washington Post would later report that “two of the jurists who helped decide the case” had “attended a six-day global warming seminar…sponsored by a free-market foundation and featuring presentations from companies with a clear financial interest in limiting regulation.”)
Twelve states, three major cities, and several environmental groups appealed the decision, arguing the case “goes to the heart of the EPA’s statutory responsibilities to deal with the most pressing environmental problem of our time.”
UPDATE III: The four dissenters in the case: Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.