On November 29, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (No. 05-1120), a case that will test the EPA’s reading of the Clean Air Act, and also the Court’s commitment to judicial restraint.
Massachusetts v. EPA was filed by some thirty parties, including twelve States with a combined population exceeding 100 million people. The parties assert that when EPA declined to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new cars and trucks in 2003, it violated the Clean Air Act by basing its decision on factors not included in the statute. They are asking the Court to remand the case to EPA so that the agency can reconsider its decision in light of the Act’s standards, not extraneous policy preferences.
Community Rights Counsel (CRC), a public interest law firm, filed an amicus curiae brief in support of the petitioners on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, National Association of Counties, International Municipal Lawyers Association, American Planning Association, and the cities of Seattle, Albuquerque, Burlington, and San Francisco.
According to Timothy J. Dowling, CRC’s Chief Counsel, “This case is about whether EPA must follow the plain requirements of the law. The Clean Air Act says in black and white that carbon dioxide is an air pollutant, and that EPA must consider only public health and welfare in deciding whether to regulate it.”
Doug Kendall, CRC’s Executive Director, added, “If judicial restraint means anything, it means judicial deference to the clear statutory text enacted into law by our elected legislators, not deference to agency defiance of Congressional mandates. The relief sought in this case is both modest and compelled by the plain language of the Clean Air Act.”
CRC’s amicus brief provides the municipal perspective on the harm threatened by global warming. Local officials across the country will be the first responders to the disasters global warming has brought and will continue to bring, including hurricanes, storm surges, deadly heat waves, smog in our cities, sudden rainstorms that overwhelm municipal water systems, and droughts that deplete local reservoirs.
Briefs in the case are available HERE