Supreme Court re-confirms EPA responsibility to regulate carbon dioxide
The court's opinion holds that a 2007 Supreme Court decision "made plain that emissions of carbon dioxide qualify as air pollution subject to regulation under" the Clean Air Act
Washington, D.C., June 21, 2011 — The U. S. Supreme Court in American Electric Power v. Connecticut underscored the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's congressionally mandated responsibility to address global warming pollution from power plants and other major pollution sources.
The court's opinion holds that a 2007 Supreme Court decision "made plain that emissions of carbon dioxide qualify as air pollution subject to regulation under" the Clean Air Act, and that the act "'speaks directly' to emissions of carbon dioxide from the defendants' plants." Power plant smokestacks are the single largest source of carbon pollution in our nation, responsible for nearly 40 percent of all U.S. emissions.
"The most important thing about this decision is that it buttresses the foundation for EPA to do its job," said Environmental Defense Fund President Fred Krupp. "The Supreme Court strongly underscored EPA's responsibility under the law to address climate pollution that threatens the health and well-being of our nation."
The high court ruled in American Electric Power Co. v. Connecticut that common law nuisance claims brought by the states of California, Connecticut, Iowa, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont to abate the extensive pollution discharged by the nation's five largest emitting power companies (AEP, Southern Co., Xcel Energy, Cinergy and TVA) are displaced by EPA's responsibility under the Clean Air Act to address global warming pollution that endangers human health and welfare.
The court describes the EPA's development of greenhouse gas New Source Performance Standards for new and existing power plants, a major source of global warming pollution, under the nation's Clean Air Act and its commitment to complete action by May 2012.