April 2 2007: In the case of Massachusetts et al. v EPA et al., the Supreme Court voted 5-4 that the Clean Air Act gives the EPA the authority to regulate the emissions of greenhouse gases from cars.

The Court's Opinion begins:

    "Based on respected scientific opinion that a well-documented rise in global temperatures and attendant climatological and environmental changes have resulted from a significant increase in the atmospheric concentration of "greenhouse gases" ..."


On November 29 2006, the Supreme Court of the US heard the case No. 05-1120  Massachusetts et al. v EPA et al..  The case started as a petition by the International Center for Technology Assessment et al. in 1999 for EPA to regulate emission of greenhouse gases from new motor vehicles as required by the Clean Air Act 202(a)(1).   In 2003 EPA denied the petition.  In 2005 the US Court of Appeals in DC ruled in favor of the EPA.  In March 2006, all petitioners joined in filing Writ for Certiorari to the US Supreme Court.  Professors Inez Fung and John Harte of UC Berkeley are among a group of climate scientists who have submitted an Amicus Curiae Brief in support of the Petitioners  The climate scientists are involved because 

    "EPA and the appeals court stated that they considered the NAS/NRC report Climate Change Science to be the scientific authority for the decision to deny the petition to regulate. We feel an obligation to inform this Court that they misunderstood or misrepresented the science contained in this report, to correct the public record as to what Climate Change Science and subsequent NAS reports say about climate change, and to offer our professional insight on using scientific evidence to judge whether a particular standard for regulatory action is met in the matter of climate change"

A very informative web site for the case is  Click on "Global Warming and the Environment", and then click on "Legal actions".  Or go directly to website lists the chronology of the case as well as many of the legal documents through the history of the case, including the original 1999 Global Warming Legal Petition,  and all the amicus briefs to the Supreme Court in support of the Petitioners.

The 2001 NRC Report Climate Change Science:  An Analysis of Some Key Questions, the principal scientific document of the case, can be found at

Other useful references on climate change from the National Academy Press

Understanding and Responding to Climate Change

Abrupt Climate Change:  Inevitable Surprises

Reconciling Observations of Temperature Change

Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Past 2000 Years


November 29 2006:  Transcript of the arguments at the Supreme Court

November 29 2006:  Panel discussion of the case at Georgetown University Law School

For a very detailed, thorough, and enlightening legal post-mortem of the way the Supreme Court oral argument went, see the C-SPAN link below,
video of a panel discussion on the case at Georgetown University law school, including Lisa Heinzerling (main author of the Massachussets et al
brief arguing the case), Prof. Richard Lazarus (a prominent expert in environmental law), E. Donald Elliot (former EPA General Counsel during the
first President Bush), and Norman Fichthorn (who represented the Utility group in the case). hives.asp?CatCodePairs=, &ArchiveDays=100&Page=2
            Scroll down to the link labeled:
            Georgetown Univ. Law Center on Massachusetts v. EPA
            In Washington, DC, the Georgetown University Law Center holds a panel
            discussion on Massachusetts v. the Evironmental Protection Agency.
            11/29/2006: WASHINGTON, DC: 1 hr. 31 min.