In what is being heralded as a milestone decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency does have the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles. If that sounds like re-iterating the obvious, consider that the decision was handed down with the slightest margin of 5-4, the votes aligned on party lines for the most part with Justices Roberts, Alito, Scalia and Thomas dissenting. (Justice Kennedy cast the deciding vote.) EPA itself has been resisting the call from advocacy groups to regulate emissions for the past 6 years, claiming that policies to curb US emissions will do nothing to curb global warming resulting from emissions in developing countries. Quoting the decision the New York Times wrote in a first page article on Tuesday:
by providing nothing more than a “laundry list of reasons not to regulate,” the environmental agency had defied the Clean Air Act’s “clear statutory command.”
Strictly speaking the decisions does not require EPA to intervene but leaves an unusual way out for the agency: by declaring that greenhouse gases are not harmful and do not constitute a danger to the environment. It remains to be seen whether bogus science will be called on once again to support the expedient option.