Court rules for EPA, rejects challenges to GHG rules

A federal appeals court upheld the US Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions in a decision that rejected challenges to the agency’s finding that they endanger human health and the environment. The June 26 ruling by the US Appeals Court for the District of Columbia also supported EPA’s tailpipe, timing, and tailoring rules.

The court found that state and industry petitioners’ challenges of the adequacy of evidence supporting the endangerment finding and questions about significant scientific uncertainty without merit. It said its own powers in the matter were limited by the US Supreme Court’s 2007 decision in Massachusetts vs. EPA, which classified GHG as an air pollutant subject to Clean Air Act regulation.

In response, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said the decision was a strong validation of, in the court’s own words, the “unambiguously correct” approach the agency took in response to the Supreme Court’s 2007 decision.

“I am pleased that the [court] found that EPA followed both the science and the law in taking commonsense, reasonable actions to address the very real threat of climate change by limiting greenhouse gas pollution from the largest sources,” she said in a statement.

Jay Timmons, chief executive of the National Association of Manufacturers, said in a statement, on behalf of an industry coalition which included the American Petroleum Institute and American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, that the ruling was a setback.

“The Clean Air Act was not designed to regulate greenhouse gases, and even EPA said that it could not comply with the statute as written to implement these regulations,” Timmons said. “[Its] decision to move forward with these regulations is one of the most costly, complex and burdensome regulations facing manufacturers.”

Two key congressional Democrats from California applauded the decision. Barbara Boxer, who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said it was a big victory for the American people’s health. Henry A. Waxman, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s ranking minority member, said it was “a message to Congress that it’s time to stop denying science.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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