Researchers to Study Outflow of Pollution from Mexico City
DOE: New CO2 Enhanced Recovery Technology Could Boost US Oil Recovery 4x or More

States and Partners Petition Supreme Court on EPA Automotive CO2 Case

States in the EPA case. Green are the petitioners; brown are those supporting EPA’s position.

The Attorneys General of 12 states, along with several major metropolitan cities, one island government and a number environmental groups have petitioned the Supreme Court to review a federal appeals court case involving federal regulation of the emission of greenhouse gases from automobiles.

The coalition, led by Massachusetts, is asking the court to review a decision issued last year by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. EPA. That ruling let stand the Environmental Protection Agency’s refusal to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. (Earlier post.)

Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly and the other parties argue in the petition that “this case goes to the heart of EPA’s statutory responsibilities to deal with the most pressing environmental problem of our time.” The petition goes on to argue that the D.C. Circuit’s ruling is at odds with Supreme Court precedent on statutory interpretation, because it allowed EPA to refuse to regulate greenhouse gases based on policy considerations outside the scope of the Clean Air Act.

Delay has serious potential consequences. Given that air pollutants associated with climate change are accumulating in the atmosphere at an alarming rate, the window of opportunity in which we can mitigate the dangers of climate change is rapidly closing.

—From the petition

Global warming is one the biggest threats facing the planet and we cannot delay action. Left unchecked, it can cause devastation to our economy, public health, natural resources. It is time for the Environmental Protection Agency to step up and fulfill its responsibility to fight this problem.

—California AG Bill Lockyer

Only the nation’s highest court can force EPA to comply with federal environmental law and curb growing greenhouses gas pollution—forestalling a future of soaring temperatures, rampant disease, extreme weather, rising sea levels and eroding shoreline. Scientific proof of global warming grows more overwhelming each day. The EPA is ignoring mounting evidence—much it from its own and other federal studies—of a coming climate catastrophe. Time is not on our side.

—Connecticut AG Richard Blumenthal

Global warming threatens all aspects of the environment in Illinois, from adversely affecting our $8 billion agriculture industry to causing heat waves, droughts and flooding. We urge the U.S. Supreme Court not to ignore this vital issue, for our sake and the sake of future generations of Illinoisans.

—Illinois AG Lisa Madigan

Scientists are clear about the danger that global warming poses to public health and the environment. What also is clear, and what was affirmed by two prior EPA general counsel, is that EPA has authority to regulate the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming. We cannot permit EPA to walk away from its responsibility in this critical area.

—New Jersey AG Zulima V. Farber

Once again, the Bush administration has favored big business over the welfare of average Americans. EPA has chosen the profit margins of powerful automobile manufacturers and dealers over the health and welfare of the public. The Clean Air Act requires EPA to assess the scientific evidence of danger to the public health and welfare. Instead, EPA has chosen to ignore science and listen to big business. That is not what Congress intended or what the Clean Air Act requires and we cannot let such disregard for the laws protecting our fragile environment go unchallenged.

—New Mexico AG Patricia Madrid

Background. In 1999, various environmental groups filed an administrative rulemaking petition requesting that EPA set motor vehicle emission standards for four greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide. In August of 2003, the EPA denied the pending rulemaking petition.

At that time, EPA also stated that as a matter of policy, it would not set motor vehicle emission standards even if it had authority. In October 2003, the coalition challenged the decision in court.

In July 2005, the federal appeals court for the D.C. Circuit voted 2-1 to let the EPA’s current position on greenhouse gas pollutants stand. In August 2005, the full bench of the appeals court for the D.C. Circuit was asked to hear the case. The court denied that request with a 4-3 decision, paving the way for the appeal to the Supreme Court.

Parties to the Lawsuit
States and GovernmentsCitiesEnvironmental Groups
  • Massachusetts
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • American Samoa
  • District of Columbia
  • New York City
  • Baltimore
  • Center for Biological Diversity
  • Center for Food Safety
  • Conservation Law Foundation
  • Environmental Advocates
  • Environmental Defense
  • Friends of the Earth
  • Greenpeace
  • Intl Center for Technology Assessment
  • National Environmental Trust
  • Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Sierra Club
  • Union of Concerned Scientists
  • U.S. Public Interest Research Group
  • Resources:

    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Opinion on Commonwealth of Mass, et. al. v. EPA



    Yeah right with the supreme court stacked with Alito and Roberts does anyone think the environment and the future will win out against short term automobile dealer and manufacturer's profits?


    AFAIK, for the Supreme Court to hear it, 6 of the 9 justices must agree to listen. So, there's a chance.

    I have no idea how SDO'C tended to lean on governmental regulatory authority or environmental issues, but I do know that Rehnquist probably wouldn't have been very likely to go along with the AsG in this case.

    So, you went from (.5-1.5) to (?-?). In this particular case, I'd rather have Roberts&Alito than SDO'C and R. I think there's a better chance we get a favorable vote out of the new two than the old two.


    Given EPA's history of dragging its feet, the ruling won't matter much unless we get a new administration that is committed to expeditiously enforcing the law.

    tom deplume

    What US auto company profit????


    Isn't it the case that some or all of these states are attempting to regulate CO2 emissions on their own without the EPA?

    While this case doesn't directly apply, I wonder whether it is the case that if they get a favorable ruling from the Supreme Court that the statewide rules that they have come up with have a greater chance of holding up.

    Dave Zeller

    These so-called "green" states are the same ones who are suing the states where coal is mined and then turned into cheap electrical power. They claim that they don't like our carbon dioxide emissions. The reality is that it turns out that the Yankee and the Left-Coaster hypocrites burn so much expensive imported oil and natural gas that their big electrical corporate interests can't compete economically with Southern and Mid-Western electrical generators, so they want these places to be saddled with regulations of THEIR choosing so that we have to pay the same for electricity as they now do.

    I say these bastards aren't to be trusted at all; they always have alterior motives as to what their true intentions are. This case concerning automotive carbon dioxide emissions is just another attempt to set a backdoor legal precedent where they can gain regulatory control over those who are about to put their own corporate interests out of business, namely New York, Massachusetts, and California electricity interests.


    Dude take a chill pill, such vitriol! There are some people in the world who are genuinely concerned with global warming, you can hardly accuse the UCS for instance of serving some corporate interest. It is sad that when there are forward thinkers who have the good of mankind's future in mind that some cynical individuals have to attribute the most mean spirited intentions to them. I certainly hope that the supreme court backs this up. Time to stop ignoring the overwhelming evidence for global warming and our CO2 emissions contributions. I for one will not hide my head in the sand. By the way I live in Washington which is one of the fastest growing wind power generating states.


    In addition to the fact that there is zero evidence of a conspiracy, this suit is a good thing on its merits. If successful, it would probably increase the cost of coal fired electricity, which is as it should be. Coal has a greater impact on GHG than natural gas and oil and, therefore, should carry a greater burden. The fact that these coal burning states, like Ohio, don't give a rat's ass about the environment is another good reason for this suit. Pollution and green house gases know no boundaries and, therefore, this must be regulated on a national, and even international, level.

    The comments to this entry are closed.