|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 Governments||Cities||Environmental Groups|
U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Opinion on Commonwealth of Mass, et. al. v. EPA