The decision was a sharp rebuke to the Bush Administration on their Global Warming policy, as the Supreme Court ordered the federal government "to take a fresh look at regulating carbon dioxide emissions from cars."
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.
The court's four conservative justices _ Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas _ dissented.
John Kerry made the following statement after the Supreme Court ruled that the Clean Air Act gives the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to regulate the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from cars:
“It’s an historic moment when the Supreme Court has to step in to protect the environment from the Bush Administration. Now that the White House must go back and take a fresh look at regulating greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles, they must take the challenge seriously.
“Science tells us we have a 10 year window in which to avoid a climate change catastrophe. The time to act is now. Massachusetts has led the way, the Supreme Court has spoken, Americans are making themselves heard, and we’re going to keep fighting until a serious solution to climate change is enacted.”
Mark Sherman, reporting for AP News noted that "The politics of global warming have changed dramatically since the court agreed last year to hear its first global warming case."
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 13 environmental groups, and 11 other states all claimed a victory today, in their law suit against the EPA from last year. The Supreme Court weighed three questions in their decision:
_Do states have the right to sue the EPA to challenge its decision?
_Does the Clean Air Act give EPA the authority to regulate tailpipe emissions of greenhouse gases?
_Does EPA have the discretion not to regulate those emissions?
The court said yes to the first two questions. On the third, it ordered EPA to re-evaluate its contention that it has the discretion not to regulate tailpipe emissions. The court said the agency has so far provided a "laundry list" of reasons that include foreign policy considerations.
The majority said the agency must tie its rationale more closely to the Clean Air Act.
"EPA has offered no reasoned explanation for its refusal to decide whether greenhouse gases cause or contribute to climate change," Stevens said. He was joined by his liberal colleagues, Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Souter, and the court's swing voter, Justice Anthony Kennedy.