Global warming is on trial in a big way, in the Supreme Court. A dozen states that are suffering the most from air pollution are demanding that the EPA force car manufacturers to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from cars. This may turn out to be one of the Supreme Court’s most important rulings on the environment.

H. Josef Hebert writes in that this argument will take a year for the court to settle, with a ruling not expected until next June.

This case doesn’t address carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, but environmentalists say a court decision that says carbon dioxide is a harmful pollutant will make it harder for the EPA to ignore these emissions as well, with programs like the Clear Skies Initiative, which basically trades emissions, rather than actually reducing them. Power plants account for about 40% of the carbon dioxide released into the air, while cars and trucks account for another 20%.

The brave states that filed this suit are California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. They were joined by the cities of Baltimore, New York and Washington D.C. Sierra Club attorney David Bookbinder says, “This is going to be the first major statement by the Supreme Court on climate change.”

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