US Supreme Court Rules EPA Must Regulate Carbon Emissions, Next Move: Greening Industry

October 9, 2008 in Building the Green Economy, Climate Destabilization, Crisis Policy Forum, Quipu Economic Forum, Zero-combustion paradigm by Joseph Robertson

The United States Supreme Court, in the spring of 2007, ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency must regulate carbon emissions. That ruling could now be the basis for legislation moving the nation toward a fully combustion-free economy.

As reported by, on 2 April 2007:

In a lawsuit brought by 12 states, several cities and a dozen pro-environment organizations against the federal government, the US Supreme Court has handed down a narrow 5 to 4 ruling reversing Bush administration policy that avoids regulating carbon dioxide emissions. The Court says the Clean Air Act specifically authorizes the EPA to enforce such regulation in order to protect the public and effect clean air standards.

The ruling means that inaction to find and punish violations of standards set by the Clean Air Act runs contrary to the EPA mandate. The lawsuit was brought by states that saw their own budgetary considerations, public health and fieldwork capabilities strained by the extra work their administrators were being asked to do in order to keep in line with federal clean air provisions.

The ruling will help to bring about a new wave of pressure from the federal government to push industry toward not only compliance with existing measures, but innovations that would reduce the overall likelihood of or reliance on carbon and chemical pollution as a standard pillar of the business process in certain industries.

Some activists have also floated the idea of pushing for further investigations into the possibility of an independent probe into possible collusion between industry and government officials, and into the events leading up to one of the earliest cabinet resignations during Pres. Bush’s term in office, that of former New Jersey governor Christine Todd Whitman as head of the EPA.

    The New York Times reported that “Justices Rule Against Bush Administration on Emissions”. The Court chastized the Bush administration’s EPA for shirking its responsibilities to protect the wellbeing of the public under the Clean Air Act. The clean air ruling, however, also affords a chance to refocus American climate policy on creating the new energy economy that will allow us to break the grip of oil on our public policy, our economic future, and our natural environment.

    The ruling was a major setback for opponents of funding for green energy technologies, the regulation of emissions or the raising of fuel efficiency standards, but since the ruling, even pro-petroleum opponents of business regulation have begun to call for aggressive government funding of research and development for the next generation of energy technologies. Now the choice is between resolving the carbon emissions crisis by 2018 or by 2050. The hopeful initiatives are focused on the nearer time-horizon.