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E-M:/ US Supremes Rule Against Bush Admin on Global Warming Ruling

Enviro-Mich message from "Anne Woiwode" <Anne.Woiwode@sierraclub.org>

Contact: Josh Dorner
202.675.2384 (w)
202.679.7570 (m)

               High Court Rules Against Bush Administration
            in Sweeping Victory in Fight Against Global Warming
        5-4 Ruling Stops EPA from Putting Politics Ahead of Science

(Washington, DC)--In a huge victory in the fight against global warming the
Supreme Court today issued a ruling in the case of Massachusetts v. EPA
decisively rejecting the Bush administration's inaction on global warming.
In a 5-4 vote, the High Court sided with the Sierra Club, 12 states, 3
cities, and the other petitioners in the case by agreeing that carbon
dioxide and other global warming pollutants can be regulated under the
Clean Air Act (CAA).  Additionally, in a separate 5-4 ruling, the Justices
wrote that the EPA cannot refuse to regulate these pollutants for political
reasons.  The Court gave its overwhelming stamp of approval to states that
are taking action to fight global warming.   At a time when automakers are
suing states for taking this step forward, the Supreme Court stated clearly
that states have the right to protect their citizens and the environment.
It also provides momentum for efforts in Congress to reduce vehicle

"Today's ruling is a watershed moment in the fight against global warming,"
said Carl Pope, Sierra Club Executive Director.  "The ruling is a total
rejection of the Bush administration's refusal to use its existing
authority to meet the challenge posed by global warming.  It also sends a
clear signal to the markets that the future lies not in the dirty, outdated
technologies of yesterday, but in the clean energy solutions that will fuel
the economy of tomorrow.  It also vindicates the leadership that California
and other states have taken on this issue."

In the majority opinion, the Court ruled that carbon dioxide and other
global warming pollutants meet the definition of "air pollutant[s]" under
the plain language of the CAA.  This ruling, in and of itself, does not
compel EPA to issue regulations limiting the emissions of global warming
pollutants.  However, the CAA states that EPA "shall regulate" any air
pollutant "reasonably anticipated" to endanger "public health or welfare,"
which includes effects upon "climate or weather."  Since EPA incorrectly
argued that carbon dioxide was not an air pollutant under the CAA, it
refused to even issue an endangerment determination.  Today's ruling
compels EPA to issue such a determination.

"It's unfortunate--but not surprising--that it took a Supreme Court case to
clarify the meaning of words such as 'pollutant,' 'endanger,' 'weather,'
and 'climate' for the Bush administration," commented David Bookbinder,
Sierra Club's Director of Climate Litigation.  "The only way EPA can
continue to refuse to do its job and not regulate global warming pollutants
is by claiming that the effects of global warming pose no danger to the
public.  Bush's EPA may try do so, but I suspect they'd be laughed out of

The Court's secondary ruling compels EPA to follow the CAA provision that
states that EPA "shall regulate" any air pollutant that it determines is
reasonably anticipated to pose a danger to public health or welfare.  EPA
had made a wide variety of specious arguments claiming why, even if they
had the authority to regulate global warming pollutants, it could simply
choose not to do so.  Today's ruling compels EPA to adhere to the
unambiguous language found in the CAA.  The CAA already affords the agency
wide latitude in its rulemaking process--specifically stating that any
potential regulations must meet tests for economic and technological

"EPA pursued a kitchen sink strategy by throwing a variety of arguments at
the Court about why it could simply choose to ignore the law and come up
with its own political criteria for deciding what is a pollutant and
whether or not to regulate it," said Bookbinder.  "This ruling simply sets
into motion the process to establish the kind of regulations for global
warming pollutants that have successfully regulated other pollutants for
decades without the kind of dire economic effects predicted by industry."

Today's decision will impact numerous other cases currently working their
way through the courts.  It will most directly affect the Coke Oven Task
Force v. EPA case currently pending in the Federal Court of Appeals for the
District of Columbia Circuit.  Both that case and Mass. v. EPA hinge on the
same question of EPA's authority under the CAA.  The ruling will also
affect challenges brought by the auto industry against the Clean Car Laws
enacted by California and 13 other states.  California and the other states
derive their authority to enact stricter standards from the same passage of
the Clean Air Act at issue in Mass. v. EPA, so the High Court's ruling
should strengthen the states' hand in cases pending in California and

"Cities and states have been taking the lead on global warming action for
the past years," said Carl Pope, Sierra Club Executive Director.  "Today's
decision will help protect those hard-fought victories from spurious
attacks by polluters and other special interests."

Today's ruling does not affect the ability of Congress to address global
warming through new legislation.  Congress remains free to amend the Clean
Air Act or pursue alternative legislation to limit global warming

"Considering the often glacial pace of rulemaking at EPA and the Bush
administration's long-professed opposition to mandatory carbon limits, any
new regulation coming out of EPA is likely to be years in the making unless
the administration moves quickly to establish a weak regulation favorable
to the biggest polluters," said Bookbinder.  "The next administration will
probably be largely responsible for implementing the Court's decision."

Environmental Defense v. Duke

The second decision issue today, also in an environmental case, upheld
EPA's view that changes in power plants that may contribute to air
pollution must be done only with a permit if there is an annual increase in
emissions. The Court rejected the Fourth Circuit Court's view that the
permit requirement applied only if there is an hourly increase in
emissions. The case was Environmental Defense Fund v. Duke Energy Corp.
(05-848). The decision was written by Justice Souter. The vote was
unanimous, although Justice Clarence Thomas filed a separate concurring

For a complete set of documents related to Mass v. EPA, see:


Josh Dorner
Associate Press Secretary
Sierra Club
408 C Street NE
Washington, DC 20002
tel 202.675.2384
cel 202.679.7570
fax 202.547.6009

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