Journal of Environmental Law & Litigation : Vol. 22, No. 2, p. 301-312 : Massachusetts v. EPA
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On April 2, 2007, the United States Supreme Court issued its much-anticipated decision in Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.).1 By a vote of 5-4, the Court decided all of the issues presented in the case in favor of the states and other parties that had challenged the decision of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) refusing to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles.2 The Court held that: the states and other petitioners met the constitutional requirements for pursuing their claims in federal court;3 the federal Clean Air Act gives the EPA authority to regulate greenhouse gases;4 and the EPA could not refuse to exercise this authority by citing policy considerations not enumerated in the statute5 or by referring generally to the scientific uncertainty remaining with respect to climate change.6 On each issue, the Court broke new legal ground. The implications of the Court’s decision for other cases involving climate change are likely to be enormous.