Wow. Supreme Court: “EPA can regulate carbon emissions”
What will happen? Maybe not much. What could happen? Something big.
By MARK SHERMAN Associated Press Writer
© 2007 The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ordered the federal government on Monday to take a fresh look at regulating carbon dioxide emissions from cars, a rebuke to Bush administration policy on global warming.
In a 5-4 decision, the court said the Clean Air Act gives the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to regulate emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from cars.
Greenhouse gases are air pollutants under the landmark environmental law, Justice John Paul Stevens said in his majority opinion.
And in quick response, words to the wise from the auto industry:
Automakers urge economy-wide approach to global warming
POSTED: 12:56 p.m. EDT, April 2, 2007
WASHINGTON (AP) — Automakers called for an economy-wide approach to global warming in reaction to a Supreme Court decision Monday that could give the government the authority to regulate the emissions of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases from cars.
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, an industry trade group representing General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co., DaimlerChrysler AG, Toyota Motor Corp. and five others, said in a statement that “there needs to be a national, federal, economy-wide approach to addressing greenhouse gases.”
Of course, don’t expect things to work out all rosy…. The auto industry plans to be the first among equals at the negotiating table:
Dave McCurdy, the alliance’s president and chief executive, said automakers would work with lawmakers and federal agencies to help develop a national approach.
But even still, the idea is right. Cap and trade? A carbon tax? Good old fashioned rationing? Banning the worst offenders (as in, no new fossil fuel powered electricity plants, followed by a phase-out of existing plants; mandatory efficient building materials and techniques; minimal acceptable auto fuel efficiency; etc)? There are lots of options for economy wide approaches to dealing with carbon pollution, and no time like the present to start trying them out.
Having said that, what the Supreme Court has ruled looks to be restricted to auto emissions (thus the auto industry’s insistence on economy-wide action, so they aren’t made the only ones to deal with the greenhouse gas problem). This is based on
Ã‚Â§202(a)(1) of the Clean Air Act, which requires that the EPA”shall by regulation prescribe . . . standards applicable to the emission of any air pollutant from any class . . . of new motor vehicles . . . which in [the EPA Administrator’s] judgment cause[s], or contrib-ute[s] to, air pollution . . . reasonably . . . anticipated to endangerpublic health or welfare,” 42 U. S. C. Ã‚Â§7521(a)(1).
Become an expert: read the Court’s actual decision in “Massachusetts et al v. Environmental Protection Agency et al.” [pdf]
P.S.–Don’t confuse this decision with the other environmental decision also released today, “Environmental Defense v. Duke Energy Corp.” That one rules that the EPA should be more rigorous in enforcing the Clean Air Act when power companies alter existing plants to ensure that no more pollution is released than before the alteration.