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Massachusetts v. EPA: What are the Implications for the Future?

May 14, 2007

Cosponsored with the ABA Section on Environment, Energy, and Resources

On April 2, 2007, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that EPA had failed to justify its denial of a petition to regulate emissions from C02 and other greenhouse gases under the new motor vehicle provisions of the Clean Air Act (CAA). The majority held that greenhouse gases were within the scope of “air pollutants” under the CAA and that EPA had authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new motor vehicles should the Agency, in its judgment, determine that such emissions meet the “endangerment” test for regulation under the new motor vehicle provisions. The Court sent the matter back to EPA for further consideration.

This ruling raises a number of important issues, including:

  • what actions will EPA now take in regards to the petition at issue and other pending petitions relating to greenhouse gas emissions?
  • are any of the Court’s findings applicable to other provisions of the CAA?
  • what action will petitioners and other organizations now take? Will they press for further regulation under the CAA or other laws?
  • what impact might the decision have on other climate change-related cases?
  • how will the decision affect the debate over legislation to address climate change? state and regional programs?
  • what are the possible commercial impacts of the case for companies involved in trading programs?

Moderator:
John Dernbach
, Professor, Widener University Law School; Chair, ABA SEER Committee on Sustainable Development, Ecosystems and Climate Change

Panelists:
Robert J. Meyers
, Associate Assistant Administrator, EPA Office of Air and Radiation
David Doniger, Policy Director and Senior Attorney, Climate Center, NRDC
Norm Fichthorn, Hunton & Williams
Paul Turner, Sutherland, Asbill and Brennan

Materials available for download:

Testimony of David Doniger, Hearing on The Implications of the Supreme Court’s Decision Regarding EPA’s Authorities with Respect to Greenhouse Gases Under the Clean Air Act, Committee on Environment and Public Works, United States Senate, April 24, 2007. Download here.

Listen to the RealAudio recording<./p>