In 2003 the state of Massachusetts sued the United States federal government for failing to regulate carbon dioxide emissions under the authority of the clean air act. The clean air act allows that any substance emitted into the atmosphere by humans, that can cause harm to humans, must be regulated by the EPA. The central issue therefore is whether carbon dioxide is dangerous to humans. The Bush administration fought the suit to the US Supreme Court, which found in 2007 that if the EPA finds that carbon dioxide is dangerous to humans, then the EPA has the power to enforce regulations on carbon dioxide. Shortly after that verdict the EPA found that carbon dioxide was dangerous to humans because of its contribution to global warming and climate change. As a first step toward regulating carbon dioxide emissions, the Bush administration focused on emissions from vehicles.
What no one anticipated was the maleficence of automotive corporations to manipulate test results rather than actually apply new technology to the vehicles they produce to bring emissions down (i.e. increase fuel efficiency). Volkswagen criminally altered their vehicles to deceive regulators and consumers (Volkswagen). Mitsubishi falsified their fuel efficiency calculations to match industry standards (Mitsubishi). Ford, Kia, and Hyundai have all recently been caught lying to consumers about the fuel efficiency of the vehicles. These issues with the automotive industry suggest that regulating carbon emissions in the future (e.g. regulating power plants) will be wrought with challenges and criminal behavior at the corporate level. This IS criminal behavior, and criminal behavior should be dealt with through the courts, not via corporate fines (Hyundai and Kia fined) . The responsible parties that willingly defraud the public trust should be prosecuted.