Industry groups, conservative think tanks, lawmakers and three states filed 16 court challenges to U.S. EPA's "endangerment" finding for greenhouse gases before yesterday's deadline, setting the stage for a legal battle over federal climate policies.
Filing petitions yesterday were the Ohio Coal Association, the Utility Air Regulatory Group, the Portland Cement Association, the state of Texas and the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Another was filed by a coalition that includes the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the American Petroleum Institute, the Corn Refiners Association, the National Association of Home Builders, the National Oilseed Processors Association, the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association, and the Western States Petroleum Association.
The lawsuits ask the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to review EPA's determination that greenhouse gases endanger human health and welfare. That finding -- released in December in response to a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling -- allows the agency to regulate the heat-trapping emissions under the Clean Air Act. Observers expect the court to consolidate the petitions.
Many industry groups and states argue that forthcoming EPA regulations will have devastating economic consequences, while EPA and environmentalists say the agency is required by law to begin regulating greenhouse gas emissions. The agency is planning to finalize new greenhouse gas rules for automobiles and large stationary sources next month.
"If EPA moves forward and begins regulating stationary sources, it will open the door for them to regulate everything from industrial facilities to farms to even American homes," NAM President John Engler said in a statement. "Such a move would further complicate a permitting process that EPA is not equipped to handle, while increasing costs to the manufacturing sector. These costly burdens and uncertainty will stifle job creation and harm our competitiveness in a global economy."
Joe Mendelson, global warming policy director for the National Wildlife Federation, said the lawsuits represent "a continuation of the big polluters essentially trying to attack the science on climate change. They have consistently done that throughout this debate." Mendelson was the lead author on the original 1999 petition to EPA seeking regulations for greenhouse gases.
Ten other petitions have been filed by Alabama, Virginia, the American Iron and Steel Institute, Gerdau Ameristeel Corp., the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Mining Association, Peabody Energy Co., the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 13 House lawmakers and the Southeastern Legal Foundation, and the Coalition for Responsible Regulation (E&ENews PM, Feb. 16).
A coalition of 16 states and New York City has also asked to intervene on behalf of EPA in the endangerment case (Greenwire, Jan. 25).
EPA spokeswoman Adora Andy said the finding was made in response to the Supreme Court ruling and after an extensive review of scientific evidence.
"Even at the end of this exhaustive, transparent process, some special interests, and individuals who have made it their cause to deny the evidence before our own eyes, did not like EPA's answer," Andy said. "Instead of helping America become a leader in the new green economy, these defenders of the status quo are now turning to the courts in an attempt to stall progress."
Still, Andy added, "EPA is confident that the finding will withstand legal challenge and allow the agency to protect the American people from the significant dangers posed by greenhouse gases and carbon pollution."