Green Party in England & Wales
US Supreme Court to make first statement on climate change
More than a dozen states and environmental groups are taking the
US's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to court in a bid to
ensure it treats CO2 from automobiles as a pollutant harmful to
health, under the federal Clean Air Act,
Green Party Principal Speaker Keith Taylor commented: "The ruling
could be one of the court's most important ever on the environment,
heralding a new era in the way the US addresses global warming.
"The Bush administration insists that voluntary measures and new
technologies can provide a solution to climate change, but we
urgently need a regulatory framework, backed by legal measures, to
really bring carbon emissions down.
"It is encouraging that the Supreme Court recognise the weight of
compelling evidence around carbon emissions, and are prepared to
consider doing something about it."
The states involved, which together account for more than a third of
the car market in the US, say the Clean Air Act makes clear carbon
dioxide is a pollutant that should be regulated if it poses a danger
to public health and welfare. They argue it does so by causing a
warming of the earth. The administration maintains that unlike other
chemicals that must be controlled to ensure healthy air, carbon
dioxide from burning fossil fuels is not a dangerous pollutant under
the federal law. And, officials argue, even if it is, the EPA has
discretion over whether to regulate it, considering the economic
costs involved. The agency should not be required to "embark on the
extraordinarily complex and scientifically uncertain task of
addressing the global issue of greenhouse gas emissions" when
voluntary ways to address climate change are available, the
administration argued in its filing with the high court.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit were California, Connecticut, Illinois,
Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode
Island, Vermont and Washington. They were joined by a number of
cities including Baltimore, New York City and Washington D.C., the
Pacific island of America Samoa, the Union of Concerned Scientists,
Greenpeace, and Friends of the Earth.