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Massachusetts v. EPA

Supreme Court of the United States

November 29, 2006, Argued ; April 2, 2007, Decided

No. 05-1120

Opinion

 [*504]  [**1446]  Justice Stevens delivered the opinion of the Court.

A well-documented rise in global temperatures has coincided with a significant increase in the concentration of carbon  [*505]  dioxide in the atmosphere. Respected scientists believe the two trends are related. For when carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere, it acts like the ceiling of a greenhouse, trapping solar energy and retarding the escape of reflected heat. It is therefore a species--the most important species--of a "greenhouse gas."

Calling global warming "the most pressing environmental challenge of our time,"1 a group of States,2 local governments,3 and private organizations4 alleged in a petition for certiorari that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has abdicated its responsibility under the Clean Air Act [****14]  to regulate the emissions of four greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide. Specifically, petitioners asked us to answer two questions concerning the meaning of § 202(a)(1) of the Act: whether EPA has the statutory authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new motor vehicles; and if so, whether its stated reasons for refusing to do so are consistent with the statute.

In response, EPA, supported [****15]  by 10 intervening States5 and six trade associations,6 correctly argued that we may not address those two questions unless at least one petitioner has standing to invoke our jurisdiction under Article III of the Constitution.  [**1447]  Notwithstanding the serious character of  [*506]  that jurisdictional argument and the absence of any conflicting decisions construing § 202(a)(1), the unusual importance of the underlying issue persuaded us to grant the writ.  [***261] 548 U.S. 903, 126 S. Ct. 2960, 165 L. Ed. 2d 949 (2006).

Section 202(a)(1) of the Clean Air Act, as added by Pub. L. 89-272, § 101(8), 79 Stat. 992, and as amended by, inter alia, 84 Stat. 1690 and 91 Stat. 791, 42 U.S.C. § 7521(a)(1), provides:

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549 U.S. 497 *; 127 S. Ct. 1438 **; 167 L. Ed. 2d 248 ***; 2007 U.S. LEXIS 3785 ****; 75 U.S.L.W. 4149; 37 ELR 20075; 63 ERC (BNA) 2057; 20 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 128

MASSACHUSETTS, et al., Petitioners v. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY et al.

Subsequent History: On remand at  [****1] Mass. v. Epa, 2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 11282 (D.C. Cir., May 9, 2007)

Prior History: ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT.

Massachusetts v. EPA, 367 U.S. App. D.C. 282, 415 F.3d 50, 2005 U.S. App. LEXIS 14311 (2005)

Disposition: Reversed and remanded.

CORE TERMS

emissions, climate, greenhouse, global, Air, gases, regulation, warming, air pollutant, atmosphere, carbon dioxide, air pollution, petitioners', redressability, Environmental, new motor vehicle, changes, rulemaking, earth, concentrations, quotation, marks, ambient air, temperatures, scientific, endanger, coastal, parens patriae, motor vehicle, pollution

Business & Corporate Compliance, Air Quality, Emission Standards, Mobile Emissions Sources, Environmental Law, General Overview, Administrative Proceedings & Litigation, Jurisdiction, Constitutional Law, The Judiciary, Case or Controversy, Standing, Elements, Administrative Law, Agency Rulemaking, Judicial Review, Standards of Review, Judicial Review, Governments, Legislation, Interpretation