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Texas, skeptics seek court review of 'endangerment' finding

The state of Texas and a coalition of free-market and global warming skeptic groups are asking a federal appeals court today to review U.S. EPA's finding that greenhouse gases threaten human health and welfare.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples announced that the state is filing a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals challenging EPA's endangerment finding.

"Texas is aggressively seeking its future in alternative energy through incentives and innovation, not mandates and overreaching regulation," Perry said in a statement. "The EPA's misguided plan paints a big target on the backs of Texas agriculture and energy producers and the hundreds of thousands of Texans they employ."

EPA's endangerment determination, issued last December, opens the door for broad regulations aimed at curbing mobile and stationary sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Today marks the deadline for petitioners to challenge the finding in the appeals court.

The legal challenge from Texas immediately drew the ire of state environmentalists.

"The lawsuit filed by Governor Perry is asking the Environmental Protection Agency to ignore the Supreme Court's decision in U.S. vs. Massachusetts," Environmental Defense Fund Texas regional director Jim Marston said in a statement. "Their action invokes memories of a sad time in Texas history from the '50s, when Texas politicians sought to nullify decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court. Not only is it legally unsound, it puts Texas on the side of the 1950s economy, against the clean energy economy of the future."

The state also filed a petition for reconsideration with EPA, asking Administrator Lisa Jackson to review her decision. The state argues that EPA's finding is legally unsupported because it relies heavily on reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Since the comment period on the endangerment finding closed, "troubling revelations about the conduct, objectivity, reliability, and propriety of the IPCC's processes, assessments, and contributors have become public," the petition says.

EPA yesterday said that the finding followed an exhaustive review of the peer-reviewed science and thousands of public comments submitted in an open and transparent process and expressed confidence that the finding would withstand legal challenge.

A coalition of conservative think tanks and global warming skeptic groups will also petition the appeals court to review EPA's finding, according to an attorney representing the groups.

The free-market think tanks Competitive Enterprise Institute and FreedomWorks are joining the global warming skeptic organizations Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change and Science and Environmental Policy Project in asking the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to review EPA's endangerment finding, CEI attorney Sam Kazman said.

"Our focus is basically on the science," Kazman said, adding that the coalition's arguments to the court will be similar to those included in previous requests to EPA that the agency reconsider its finding.

CEI has been a vocal foe of EPA's endangerment finding since it was proposed last year, arguing that flawed scientific data were used to underpin the determination. The group has repeatedly accused the agency of failing to reconsider the finding in the wake of a controversy last year surrounding a series of e-mails from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit.

Some skeptics point to the e-mails as proof that researchers intentionally withheld climate data and sought to stifle competing theories, while most scientists insist that the content of the e-mails does not upend the scientific consensus that man-made emissions are causing climate change.

Last week, CEI, the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, and the Science and Environmental Policy Project petitioned EPA to reconsider its finding. Citing the stolen e-mails and more recent controversies surrounding reports from the IPCC, the groups argued that the IPCC's data were based on politics rather than sound science (E&ENews PM, Feb. 12).

Several other opponents of EPA climate rules have already filed petitions with the appeals court. Observers say the court will likely consolidate the petitions following today's filing deadline (Greenwire, Feb. 15).

Click here to read Texas' petition to the appeals court.

Click here to read Texas' petition to EPA.

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