In a landmark environmental decision and a major slam at the Bush administration, the Supreme Court ruled April 2 that the Environmental Protection Agency can and should regulate global warming gases in car and truck emissions. The Bush administration had argued that the EPA does not have the right to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.
Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for the majority in the 5-4 decision, concluded that greenhouse gases are air pollutants and the EPA cannot sidestep its authority to regulate them. Tailpipe emissions from cars and trucks account for about 25 percent of our country’s total greenhouse gas emissions, and the U.S. accounts for about 25 percent of the world’s total greenhouse gases.
In addition to tangling with the powerful auto and oil industry lobbies, the decision has much wider significance, as it will likely apply to emissions from all other sources, utilities and other industries included.
The decision comes as a five-day meeting of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change prepared to issue a new report underscoring that more than 2,000 scientists from around the world have concluded that global warming is increasing due to human activities.
This dramatic conclusion undoubtedly spurred the Supreme Court majority decision.
The ruling was on a lawsuit was filed by 12 states and 13 environmental groups frustrated by the continued “what me worry?” pro-corporate posture of the Bush administration while other industrialized nations have been taking major steps to slow the dangerous acceleration of global warming. Not surprisingly, Chief Justice Roberts along with Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito — all Bush I and II appointees — wrote a dissenting opinion claiming the plaintiffs had no standing to sue the EPA.
News reports tell us major droughts and water crises are hitting our Western and Southwestern states, caused by global warming. This is real, folks. But meaningful federal response is not likely until the present administration is replaced in 2008 by one more in tune with people’s needs and survival of the planet.