Indiana University

Skip to:

  1. Search
  2. Breadcrumb Navigation
  3. Content
  4. Browse by Topic
  5. Services & Resources
  6. Additional Resources
  7. Multimedia News

Media Contacts

Elisabeth Andrews
IU Media Relations

Debbie O'Leary
IU School of Law - Bloomington

Jana Wilson

Last modified: Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Media advisory: Experts available to comment on Supreme Court EPA decision

April 3, 2007

EDITORS: Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled that the Clean Air Act gives the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions and other greenhouse gases emitted from automobiles. The court has ordered the federal government to re-examine regulating tailpipe emissions of greenhouse gases. The professors quoted below are available to comment.

Implications for the presidential election. Environmental science professor Kenneth Richards said yesterday's decisions will likely bear on the next presidential term.

"The question now has to be 'What practical effect will this ruling have?' The answer is virtually no effect, at least for now. The EPA under the Bush Administration will likely equivocate and stall for the next two years; after all, they have not been ordered to take action, only to consider taking action. The real significance of this ruling is that it will empower the EPA of the next administration to initiate a rulemaking on greenhouse gases, if the administration chooses to do so. That means there are now two avenues for climate change law - one through Congress and one through the next administration. If Congress doesn't act within two years, the next president might get to claim credit. That clarified power in the hands of the administration could make for a very interesting presidential election season."

Richards can be reached at 812-855-5971 and

EPA pulling punches. Indiana University environmental sciences professor Matthew Auer said the EPA should have been more direct in its arguments.

"The EPA made a fundamental mistake in its arguments before the Court. Instead of clearly explaining why Congress intentionally meant to curtail EPA's authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions, the agency focused on alleged scientific uncertainty in the global warming debate. Five justices appeared to have done enough homework to discount the latter. The February 2007 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which made unambiguous connections between human activity and climate change, did not help EPA's cause.

"The decision also reminds us that Roberts is Chief Justice, but this is Kennedy's Court." Auer said.

Auer can be reached at 812-855-0635 and

A stinging rebuke. According to A. James Barnes, an Indiana University professor and former EPA general counsel and deputy administrator,

"The Supreme Court's decision is a stinging rebuke to the Bush Administration's interpretation of its authority to deal with carbon dioxide emissions and global climate change—albeit on a 5-4 vote with the Chief Justice and the other G.W. Bush appointee, Alito, dissenting. The court ruled across the board against the EPA position—and for the plaintiff Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The court found that not only did Massachusetts have the requisite 'legal standing' to challenge the EPA action declining to regulate motor vehicle emissions to protect against global climate change, but also that EPA was incorrect in asserting that it had no legal authority to do so, and that EPA had asserted impermissible grounds for refusing to do so. The dissenters concluded that Massachusetts should not be accorded the legal right to challenge the EPA action in court."

Barnes, a professor in public and environmental affairs and environmental law, can be reached at 812-855-4079, 812-856-2188, or at