by Kenneth Artz
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) failed to comply with its legal obligation to reduce the state’s greenhouse-gas emissions, according to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, which ruled in favor of four teenagers supported by Our Children’s Trust, the Conservation Law Foundation, and the Mass Energy Consumers Alliance.
The court ordered DEP to create regulations addressing multiple sources or categories of sources of greenhouse-gas emissions, and the Court mandated DEP impose a limit on released emissions and set limits that decline annually. Currently, Massachusetts is not on track to meet its 2020 greenhouse-gas-reduction goal of cutting emissions by 25 percent below 1990 levels.
The court’s action did not surprise David Schnare, general counsel at the Energy & Environment Legal Institute, who says the courts did not pass judgment concerning whether climate change was happening or harmful, rather it was simply enforcing the law.
“All the [Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court] did was a routine function to force the legislature to do what it was required to do by law,” said Schnare. “The Court did not say climate change was a horrible thing, rather it ruled [the] state had not done its job under the law and told them to do it.”