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Apr 2007
April 03, 2007

U.S. Supreme Court Issues Global Warming Opinion

In a 5-4 decision issued April 2, 2007, the United States Supreme Court held that the Environmental Protection Agency is authorized to regulate emissions from automobiles, concluding that greenhouse gases are "pollutants" as defined by the Clean Air Act. The Court stated that the agency can "avoid taking further action only if it determines that greenhouse gases do not contribute to climate change." Justice Stevens authored the majority opinion, with Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito in dissent. The full opinion in Massachusetts v. EPA can be reviewed here.

In a separate environmental decision issued April 2, 2007, the Court addressed permitting requirements when a power plant undergoes a "modernization" program involving the replacement of old parts. The Court unanimously sided with the plaintiff environmental groups and the EPA, holding that a company must obtain a permit to effect changes in a power plant that may contribute to air pollution, and that such permits must be based on annual pollution levels, not hourly levels. The full opinion in Environmental Defense v. Duke Energy Corp. can be reviewed here.

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