SCOTUS to review EPA regs of stationary sources’ GHG emissions

The US Supreme Court agreed to review the US Environmental Protection Agency’s approach to regulating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from refineries and other stationary sources. The American Petroleum Institute and American Petrochemical & Fuel Manufacturers applauded the move.

The examination will be limited to “whether EPA permissibly determined that its regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from new motor vehicles triggered permitting requirements under the Clean Air Act for stationary sources that emit greenhouse gases,” the court said in its Oct. 15 order.

A coalition of leading manufacturing associations joined API and AFPM in arguing that in this instance, EPA overstepped authority granted by Congress under the federal CAA.

“The Clean Air Act clearly only requires preconstruction permits for six specific emissions that impact national air quality—not greenhouse gases,” said Harry Ng, API’s vice-president and general counsel.

“That kind of overreach can have enormous implications on US competitiveness and the prices that consumers pay for fuel and manufactured goods,” Ng said, adding, “We’re pleased that the court has agreed to review our petition—alongside several others—and we look forward to presenting our case.”

Industry responds

AFPM General Counsel Rich Moskowitz said the trade organization welcomed the high court’s review of EPA’s GHG regulations under the CAA’s Prevention of Significant Deterioration program.

“EPA’s interpretation of this program would transform a permitting regime designed by Congress to address the largest industrial sources’ emissions of criteria pollutants into a far-reaching regulatory program that potentially applies to thousands of small sources that Congress never intended to be subjected to onerous permitting requirements,” Moskowitz said.

“EPA does not have the authority to rewrite specific statutory emission limits in an effort to avoid the absurd results created by its attempt to use GHGs as a regulatory trigger under the PSD program,” he said, adding, “Today’s decision by the court brings us one step closer to correcting a very costly regulation that will put significant strain on every state’s resources.”

The regulations’ impacts would be felt not only by energy and manufacturing companies, but also impose stringent permitting requirements of millions of other stationary sources, according to National Association of Manufacturers Pres. Jay Timmons.

“Manufacturers are pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision to review the EPA’s [GHG] regulations from stationary sources—one of the most costly, complex, and harmful regulatory issues facing manufacturers and threatening our global competitiveness,” he said.

The American Chemistry Council said in a statement that its petition also states EPA does not have authority to require industrial plants get PSD permits based on GHG emissions because they “are not ‘criteria pollutants’ with established National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS),” adding, “We hope the court will correct EPA’s egregious misreading of the Clean Air Act, which even the agency concedes leads to ‘absurd results.’”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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