United States Supreme Court Rules EPA Must Take Action on Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Massachusetts v. EPA

de Saillan, Charles
September 2007
Natural Resources Journal;Fall2007, Vol. 47 Issue 4, p793
Academic Journal
On April 2, 2007, the United States Supreme Court announced its decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, holding that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had improperly denied a rulemaking petition requesting that the agency place limits on air emissions that contribute to global warming. The petitioners had asked EPA to regulate the emissions of certain greenhouse gases from new motor vehicles under the Clean Air Act. In ruling on the EPA's denial of the petition, the Supreme Court addressed three issues. First, the Court held that the lead petitioner, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, had standing to sue for redress of injuries caused by global warming. The Court also ruled that a state acting to protect its quasi-sovereign interests was entitled to "special solicitude" in standing analysis. Second, the Court held that the EPA had the statutory authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. Finally, the Court held that the EPA had not adequately justified its denial of the petition in accordance with the statute. The decision sets significant precedent for pending and future litigation on global warming issues.


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