Wed, Apr 04, 2007 - Page 7 News List

Environmentalists hail US court ruling


Environmentalists hailed a US Supreme Court ruling that the government has the power to regulate greenhouse gases as a watershed decision in fighting global warming.

In a sharply divided judgment, the court ruled on Monday that greenhouse gases are pollutants, and so the federal Environmental Protection Agency was wrong to say it had no mandate to regulate such emissions.

The decision dealt a new blow to the administration of US President George W. Bush, which is steadfast in refusing any limits on US industry or on its gas-guzzling cars, arguing it could hurt the country's economy.

"Because greenhouse gases fit well within the Clean Air Act's capacious definition of `air pollutant,' we hold that EPA has the statutory authority to regulate the emission of such gases from new motor vehicles," the court ruled.

Led by Massachusetts, a dozen states along with several US cities and environmental groups went to the courts to try to force the agency to regulate greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide emissions after it refused to do so.

"The harms associated with climate change are serious and well recognized," said Justice John Paul Stevens in the ruling which won five votes in favor to four against.

"EPA's steadfast refusal to regulate greenhouse gas emissions presents a risk of harm to Massachusetts that is both `actual' and `imminent.'"

Environmental campaigners, who have been fighting for greater regulations in the US hailed Monday's ruling, as did a handful of politicians.

"It is a watershed moment in the fight against global warming," said Josh Dorner, spokesman for the Sierra Club environmental group.

"This is a total repudiation of the refusal of the Bush administration to use the authority he has to meet the challenge posed by global warming," he said.

It also "sends a clear signal to the market that the future lies not in dirty, outdated technology of yesterday, but in clean energy solutions of tomorrow like wind, solar," he added.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said the administration and EPA would have to "analyze" the decision and denied ever contesting that greenhouse gases contribute to global warming.

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