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October 15, 2013

Supreme Court Denies Polluters' Challenge to EPA Finding that Greenhouse Gases Endanger Public Health

SmogToday the U.S. Supreme Court denied legal petitions from polluters and states that challenged the Environmental Protection Agency's historic finding that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare.
 
This decision leaves no doubt that the EPA has both the authority and the responsibility to set sensible limits on the carbon pollution that is fueling climate change and endangering public health.
 
While some are saying the ruling is a loss, in reality the court chose only to review whether the Obama administration's decision to limit vehicle tailpipe pollution also triggered permitting requirements for industrial sources under parts of the act.
 
The high court left standing the EPA's commonsense and achievable emission standards for vehicles. The court will focus only on narrow technical questions regarding permits, representing a win for public health.
 
The victory is that the court will address neither the endangerment finding that paved the way for cutting carbon pollution nor the vehicle standards themselves.
 
Although the EPA's authority to limit carbon pollution to protect public health has been repeatedly challenged by polluters, the Supreme Court has now reaffirmed it multiple times.
 
This means that the path forward is clear for the Obama administration to set strong carbon pollution standards for all power plants -- the largest domestic source of the carbon pollution that fuels climate change and endangers public health. 
 
Carbon pollution that causes climate disruption is responsible for increased air pollution that can cause thousands of death every year -- yet remains unchecked. That must change.
 
According to researchers at Stanford University, unchecked carbon pollution could lead to 21,000 climate disrupton-related deaths. And today, millions of children live in areas that receive an "F" rating for at least one air-quality measure, based on the American Lung Association's "State of the Air Report." Climate disruption will only worsen that pollution.
 
As Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said, "The president and the EPA have not just the authority, but the responsibility to move forward with bold measures to protect American families from the increasing threat of climate disruption."

-- Joanne Spalding, Sierra Club managingattorney

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