Bush administration, neanderthals being left behind on global warming.
The Supremes hand the know-nothings a defeat, another step in dragging them kicking and screaming into confronting reality.
The Supreme Court ordered the federal government on Monday to take a fresh look at regulating carbon dioxide emissions from cars, a rebuke to Bush administration policy on global warming.
In a 5-4 decision, the court said the Clean Air Act gives the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to regulate the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from cars.
Greenhouse gases are air pollutants under the landmark environmental law, Justice John Paul Stevens said in his majority opinion.
The court's four conservative justices -- Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas -- dissented.
Many scientists believe greenhouse gases, flowing into the atmosphere at an unprecedented rate, are leading to a warming of the Earth, rising sea levels and other marked ecological changes.
The politics of global warming have changed dramatically since the court agreed last year to hear its first global warming case.
"In many ways, the debate has moved beyond this," said Chris Miller, director of the global warming campaign for Greenpeace, one of the environmental groups that sued the EPA. "All the front-runners in the 2008 presidential campaign, both Democrats and Republicans, even the business community, are much further along on this than the Bush administration is."
The court had three questions before it.
--Do states have the right to sue the EPA to challenge its decision?
--Does the Clean Air Act give EPA the authority to regulate tailpipe emissions of greenhouse gases?
--Does EPA have the discretion not to regulate those emissions?
The court said yes to the first two questions. On the third, it ordered EPA to re-evaluate its contention it has the discretion not to regulate tailpipe emissions. The court said the agency has so far provided a "laundry list" of reasons that include foreign policy considerations.
The majority said the agency must tie its rationale more closely to the Clean Air Act.
"EPA has offered no reasoned explanation for its refusal to decide whether greenhouse gases cause or contribute to climate change," Stevens said. He was joined by his liberal colleagues, Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Souter, and the court's swing voter, Justice Anthony Kennedy.
The lawsuit was filed by 12 states and 13 environmental groups that had grown frustrated by the Bush administration's inaction on global warming.