A Landmark US Climate Ruling Could Go Up In Smoke After Justice Kennedy Retires

  • Date: 01/07/18
  • Mashable

President Donald Trump will select the next Supreme Court nominee, and it’s almost certain this individual will, at minimum, find Massachusetts v. EPA flawed or bad law.

After 30 years on the Supreme Court bench, Justice Anthony Kennedy will leave the nation’s highest courthouse at the end of July.

With Kennedy’s departure comes much uneasiness. One cause for concern is over the paramount climate decision Massachusetts v. EPA, in which Kennedy proved to be the deciding swing vote, as he often was. The worry is that with him gone, the ruling will be left imperiled.

The case occurred after the EPA decided, in 2003, that it could not regulate heat-trapping greenhouse gases. Twelve states, including Massachusetts, sued the agency. They argued that these gases were pollutants and a danger to the public. Eventually, the case found its way to the Supreme Court.Settled by a five to four vote in 2007, Massachusetts v. EPA ruled for the first time that heat-trapping greenhouse gases are pollutants, and that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can regulate them, just as the agency reins in pollution emitted by cars and trucks.

“I think Massachusetts v. EPA is the most important environmental decision the Supreme Court has ever decided,” Ann Carlson, the director of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the UCLA School of Law, said in an interview.

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