Supreme Court Rejects Industry Challenge to Important EPA Safeguard Addressing Climate Pollution

Allows agency emission standards for cars and trucks to go forward; also agrees to hear issue concerning air pollution permits


Raviya Ismail, Earthjustice, (202) 745-5221

On Tuesday the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear industry challenges to EPA’s carbon pollution limits for cars and trucks, and also rebuffed attacks on the agency’s determination that carbon dioxide and other climate change pollutants endanger our health. These EPA protections respond to the Supreme Court’s 2007 ruling in Massachusetts v. EPA, and are important parts of the agency’s efforts to curb such pollution under the Clean Air Act.

Earthjustice litigated alongside other groups to secure the Supreme Court ruling. In refusing to disturb the EPA’s endangerment determination, the Court’s action provides a solid footing for future EPA action to set standards for other major sources of climate change pollution like power plants, refineries, and oil and gas operations.

“Scientists recognize the strong link between burning fossil fuels like coal, and global warming,” said Earthjustice attorney Howard Fox, co-counsel for Environmental Defense Fund. “Among many impacts, a warming climate worsens smog that triggers asthma attacks and other lung ailments. This case underscores polluting industries’ dogged resistance to safeguards designed to protect the public’s health and the environment. Notably, the automobile industry did not join these misguided challenges, but instead opposed these big industrial polluters’ efforts to overturn the standards that apply to cars.”

The Supreme Court accepted review of one industry challenge. At issue is the EPA’s determination that permits are required prior to construction of new major industrial facilities that will emit large quantities of greenhouse gases. The permits will include plant-specific requirements to limit climate change pollution using available technologies. Industry contends that the permit requirement lacks legal basis, but the lower court decisively rejected that argument. Earthjustice and co-counsel will vigorously oppose the industry position before the Supreme Court.

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