The court firmly struck down all the EPA’s defenses for inaction: it noted that the EPA is obliged to regulate any deleterious pollutant emitted by motor vehicles; that carbon dioxide clearly falls within that category; that Massachusetts had standing to sue because climate change was already claiming part of the state’s coastline, and that the state was vulnerable to considerably greater coastal losses this century if climate change is not mitigated. Moreover, it emphasized that mitigating U.S. auto emissions would have a meaningful effect on the pace of climate change. For all of these reasons, the Court ruled that the EPA was obligated to act.
The obligation to limit greenhouse gas emissions is therefore already the law of the land, vis-à-vis both international and domestic law, and it’s high time we begin respecting those laws. We should do so not only because it is important that we recognize and honor our legal commitments, but also because we made those commitments for powerful reasons of our own survival and wellbeing. Even an administration that has dragged its feet for seven years is finally beginning to face that reality.