Published: Monday April 2, 2007
The US Supreme Court ruled Monday that the Environmental Protection Agency must consider greenhouse gases as pollutants, in a blow to the White House.
“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 ruled.
Led by Massachusetts, a dozen states along with several US cities and environmental groups went to the courts to determine whether the agency had the authority to regulate greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide emissions.
“The harms associated with climate change are serious and well recognized,” said judge John Paul Stevens as the ruling was carried by five votes in favor to four against.
The Republican administration of US President George W. Bush has fiercely opposed any imposition of binding greenhouse limits on the nation’s industry.
Environmentalists have alleged that since Bush came to office in 2001 his administration has ignored and tried to hide looming evidence of global warming and the key role of human activity in climate change.
As the issue has come to the fore in the US, the White House earlier this year issued a rare open letter defending Bush’s record on climate change, rejecting criticisms that he has only recently awakened to the problem.
Monday’s ruling was immediately hailed by environmental campaigners which has been fighting for greater regulations in a nation which accounts for a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions.
“It is a watershed moment in the fight against global warming,” said Josh Dorner, spokesman for the Sierra Club environmental group.
“This is a total repudiation of the refusal of the Bush administration to use the authority he has to meet the challenge posed by global warming.
It also “sends a clear signal to the market that the future lies not in dirty, outdated technology of yesterday, but in clean energy solutions of tomorrow like wind, solar,” he added.