High Court Rules Clean Air Act Gives EPA Authority to Fight Global Warming


Statement from Earthjustice attorney Howard Fox, who argued the case at the appeals court level.


Howard Fox / David Baron, Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500

The following is a statement from Earthjustice attorney Howard Fox. On behalf of Earthjustice’s client the Sierra Club, Mr. Fox co-argued this case at the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 2005.

“Today is a great day for the environment. In one of the most important environmental cases of its history, the Supreme Court has reaffirmed what we have been saying all along: The Clean Air Act gives EPA authority to fight global warming. The EPA must act immediately and issue regulations that limit greenhouse gases from motor vehicles that contribute to global warming.

“While this case has worked its way through EPA and the courts, scientific evidence of global warming has continued to mount — so much so that the scientific debate is over. Our climate is warming, and pollution from human activities is a major cause. Harms include rising seas that submerge coastal lands, stronger hurricanes, more drought, melting ice caps and degraded ecosystems.

“To combat this most urgent environmental crisis, strong and comprehensive U.S. action is crucial. EPA must use its existing Clean Air Act authority to require control of greenhouse gas emissions — by motor vehicles (the subject of this case) as well as by other sources like power plants. The Act has successfully cut emissions of many pollutants, and it can do the same for greenhouse gases.

“Congress should both hold EPA’s feet to the fire and enact a national emissions cap that requires steep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and must also significantly tighten fuel economy standards for motor vehicles. Scientists have determined that to avoid the worst impacts of global warming we must cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050.” 

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