Cases Aimed at Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions
ANNAPOLIS - Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler today applauded two Supreme Court decisions issued today in which state and environmental petitioners prevailed in two important air pollution casesone involving EPAs authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles, and the other involving the appropriate emissions test for determining when modifications to existing power plants and other industrial facilities trigger a requirement to install state-of-the-art pollution control equipment affecting greenhouse gas emissions. In the first case, Massachusetts v. EPA, the United States Supreme Court rejected EPAs arguments that it does not have the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, and that even if it did have the authority, it had properly refused to exercise its authority. In a 5 to 4 decision, the Court ruled that the Clean Air Act clearly authorizes regulation of greenhouse gas emissions and that EPAs determination not to regulate such emissions was based on impermissible considerations under the Clean Air Act.
In the second near unanimous decision, Environmental Defense v. Duke Energy, the Supreme Court reversed the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals decision and held that upgrades or other modifications to existing power plants or other industrial facilities are subject to Clean Air Act permit provisions requiring installation of best available control technology when the modifications result in annual emissions increases, regardless of whether there is an hourly emission rate increase. The court rejected the Fourth Circuit Courts view that the permit requirement applies only if the modification results in an hourly increase in emissions. Maryland applies an annual emissions test, which subjects more upgrades to the permit requirements, and thus, is more protective of health and the environment.
Todays Supreme Court decisions are an important victory for the states, said Attorney General Gansler. For years, states have taken the lead in enforcing environmental laws in the absence of a strong federal partner. We strongly encourage the EPA to do its job and regulate greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles and require utilities to install state-of-the-art pollution controls.
Maryland participated as an amicus along with other states in support of the state and environmental petitioners.