A COALITION OF 12 STATES AND NUMEROUS GROUPS — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was justified in refusing to regulate carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas linked to global warming, as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act, a federal court ruled yesterday in a major legal victory for the Bush administration.
A coalition of 12 states and numerous groups - including the city of Baltimore - had argued that the EPA was legally bound to regulate carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act because global warming was a demonstrable threat to public health and safety.
But in 2-1 decision, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia concluded that EPA officials acted within their authority two years ago when they rejected a petition demanding that they begin regulating carbon exhaust from new cars and trucks.
The decision ensures that the federal government will not force businesses to make reductions in greenhouse gases while President Bush is in office unless it is compelled to do so by Congress. A spokeswoman for California Attorney General Bill Lockyer said yesterday that the states that brought the suit are considering whether to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Bush promised to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants during his first campaign for president but reversed his position after he took office, and he now argues that mandatory measures to cut greenhouse gases would cripple the American economy.
Under Bush, the United States formally rejected the Kyoto Protocol, an international pact to reduce greenhouse gases. The administration has instead chosen to pursue only voluntary reduction programs to address scientists' concerns that global warming will lead to dangerous increases in temperature and rises in sea level.
The United States, the world's largest emitter of carbon dioxide, and Australia, the world's largest coal exporter, are the only two major developed nations to reject the Kyoto Protocol. It requires participating countries to reduce greenhouse gases to about 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.
The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.