US ‘must regulate CO2 from cars’

In a decision that could strongly influence America's climate change debate, the US Supreme Court ruled against a federal agency which refused to regulate on greenhouse gas emissions from cars.

Twelve US states and 13 environmental groups brought a case against the federal Environmental Protection Agency disputing the agency’s claims that it has “no authority” to regulate on car emissions under the Clean Air Act.

Backed by ten states and four carmakers’ associations, he EPA argued that even if it was authorised to regulate on climate change it would be “unwise to do so at that time because a causal link between greenhouse gases and the increase in global surface air temperatures was not unequivocally established.”

In a strong rebuke to the Bush Administration the Supreme Court ruled that, given the scientific evidence, EPA not only has the right to regulate climate warming gases but also that it must do so unless it can provide scientific reasons for its refusal.

Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens said that “the harms associated with climate change are serious and well recognised.”

The judge also ruled that “greenhouse gases fit well within the Act’s capacious definition of ‘air pollutant'” and that as such EPA has authority to regulate their emissions from motor vehicles.

American car manufacturers responded to the decision by saying they “look forward to working constructively with both Congress and the administration, including EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in developing a national approach.”

Dave McCurdy, president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, called for “a national, federal, economy-wide approach to addressing greenhouse gases.”

“This decision says that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will be part of this process,” he said.

To view the full text of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Massachusetts et al. v Environmental Protection Agency et al. case click here.

Goska Romanowicz

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie