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Monday, April 02, 2007

Supreme Court endorses EPA authority to regulate 'greenhouse gas' car emissions
Jeannie Shawl at 10:25 AM ET

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] ruled Monday that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the authority under the Clean Air Act [text; EPA materials] to regulate the emission of "greenhouse gases," such as carbon dioxide, by automobiles. In Massachusetts v. EPA [Duke Law case backgrounder; JURIST report], 12 states and several environmental groups sued the EPA arguing that the agency had, according to the court, "abdicated its responsibility under the Clean Air Act" to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. The Court first agreed that the plaintiffs had standing to bring the lawsuit and went on to rule that "Because greenhouse gases fit well within the Clean Air Act's capacious definition of 'air pollutant,' we hold that EPA has the statutory authority to regulate the emission of such gases from new motor vehicles." The Court reversed and remanded the federal appeals court decision [PDF text], saying that the EPA improperly "offered no reasoned explanation for its refusal to decide whether greenhouse gases cause or contribute to climate change" and holding that the "EPA must ground its reasons for action or inaction in the statute." Read the Court's 5-4 opinion [text] per Justice Stevens, along with a dissent [text] from Chief Justice Roberts and a second dissent [text] from Justice Scalia. Reuters has more.

In a second decision handed down Monday, the Court ruled in Environmental Defense Fund v. Duke Energy Corp. [Duke Law case backgrounder; JURIST report] that the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit improperly interpreted Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) [EPA materials] regulations under the Clean Air Act. The appeals court ruled [PDF text] that the Clean Air Act requires the EPA to conform PSD regulations to their New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) [EPA materials] counterparts, and the Supreme Court held that "the Court of Appeals's reading of the 1980 PSD regulations, intended to align them with NSPS, was inconsistent with their terms and effectively invalidated them; any such result must be shown to comport with the Act's restrictions on judicial review of EPA regulations for validity." Read the Court's opinion [text] per Justice Souter, along with a concurrence [text] from Justice Thomas. AP has more.

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