Beginning on January 2, 2011, greenhouse gases officially become regulated pollutants under the Clean Air Act. This is the product of a 2007 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that established carbon dioxide as a pollutant under the act. According to a report by Science magazine, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency”s effort to control greenhouse emissions will only get more controversial as myriad lawsuits challenge the regime and Republicans, now ascendant in the House of Representatives, seek to stop EPA in its tracks.

Science is offering a two-part primer detailing changes to be expected as part of the new regulatory landscape for greenhouse gases in the United States.

The regulation of greenhouse gases figures to impact cars and light trucks, which are responsible for about one-fifth of U.S. heat-trapping emissions. Rules will apply to 2012 model vehicles, which will be available for sale starting on Sunday. According to Science, however, the more divisive efforts are for regulating power plants, refineries, and big factories that emit greenhouse gases. Under the new rules, newly constructed facilities require a permit if they are expected to emit 75,000 tons of CO2 (or equivalent greenhouse gas) a year or if they are already running but plan to add that much new capacity. In July existing plants that emit 100,000 or more tons will need a permit.

For Science”s full report on this story, click here.