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The U.S. Supreme Court on April 2 rendered the following decisions: The justices ruled, 5-4, that the Environmental Protection Agency has statutory authority to regulate the emission of greenhouse gases from new motor vehicles. Massachusetts v. EPA, No. 05-1120. In 1999, a group of 19 private organizations filed a rule-making petition asking the EPA to regulate “greenhouse gas emissions from new motor vehicles” under Section 202 of the Clean Air Act, which requires the EPA to prescribe standards “applicable to the emission of any air pollutant from any class . . . of new motor vehicles” which may cause or contribute to air pollution. The EPA denied the petition, reasoning that the act does not authorize it to issue regulations to address global climate change, and that even if it had the authority to set greenhouse gas emission standards, it would be unwise to do so given that a causal link between greenhouse gases and global warming has not been established. In response, the group sought review in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The court held that the EPA administrator had exercised his discretion properly in denying the rule-making petition. The justices reversed. Writing on behalf of the court, Justice John Paul Stevens said that because greenhouse gases fit well within the act’s definition of “air pollutant,” EPA has statutory authority to regulate emission of such gases from new motor vehicles. The definition � “any air pollution agent . . . including any physical, chemical . . . substance . . . emitted into . . . the ambient air” � embraces all airborne compounds of whatever stripe. In addition, “EPA identifies nothing suggesting that Congress meant to curtail EPA’s power to treat greenhouse gases as air pollutants.” Stevens’ opinion was joined by justices Anthony M. Kennedy, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. dissented.

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