On April 2, 2007 a major battle was won on behalf of Massachusetts and environmentalists everywhere. The case of Massachusetts v. the Environmental Protection Agency ruled in a 5-4 decision that the federal government was wrong to ignore its responsibility to regulate carbon dioxide emission from cars and trucks. It is hoped that this ruling will lead to much needed federal action to slow global warming.
The state of Massachusetts argued that the EPA’s rejection of a request in 2003 to regulate carbon dioxide under the Clear Air Act has lead to increases in greenhouse gasses. They claimed the effects of these gasses are well documented and result in such consequences as a rise in sea levels, changes in ecosystems, a reduction of winter snow pack and numerous health consequences. In turn, the EPA claimed that curbing emission in the US would have little effect without a similar effort in areas like India or China.
Justice John P. Stevens wrote the Supreme Court decision. He writes that the “EPA’s steadfast refusal to regulate greenhouse gas emissions presents a risk of harm to Massachusetts that is both actual and imminent”. This case is being hailed by advocates such as the Conservation Law Foundation and Environmental Massachusetts as a victory in a landmark case. They believe is has opened doors to new regulations and a long overdue reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from our vehicles.