CLIMATE:

EPA urges court to reject requested 'endangerment' remand

U.S. EPA is challenging a request made by Virginia, Alabama and other critics of the agency's "endangerment" finding that a federal appeals court ought to send the finding back to EPA for review.

The attorneys general from those states, as well as industry groups and other critics of EPA's finding that greenhouse gases threaten public health and welfare, asked the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia earlier this month to remand the finding (E&ENews PM, April 16). Those groups argued that EPA ought to reconsider the finding in the wake of recent controversies surrounding the science underpinning the determination.

Virginia and Alabama are among a host of groups that have asked the appeals court to review the endangerment finding.

EPA earlier this month asked the court to hold the lawsuit in abeyance until it issues a decision on the numerous petitions for reconsideration filed with the agency. EPA said it expects to issue a decision on those petitions in late July.

But Virginia argued in its request for remand that "there can be no realistic expectation that EPA will actually grant reconsideration" based on recent public statements from EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and the agency's final rule imposing greenhouse gas standards for cars and light-duty trucks. The tailpipe standard, issued earlier this month, hinges on EPA's positive endangerment finding.

EPA shot back in a motion filed yesterday with the court.

"Their assertion that EPA has de facto denied these petitions is entirely meritless," the agency said. "To the contrary -- EPA is in the process of carefully reviewing the ten petitions for reconsideration (and seven supplements thereto) submitted to the agency, and anticipates that it will issue its decision with respect to all the petitions on or about July 30, 2010."

A coalition of 17 states and New York City also petitioned the court to deny the request to send the finding back to EPA.

The position that the court should remand the finding "while EPA is still reviewing petitions for reconsideration involving the same issue raised in movants' remand motions, seeks to bypass the appeal process that they themselves initiated," the states supporting EPA wrote in a motion submitted yesterday to the court. "Disposal of the case in this manner is not warranted," they said.

Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection and New York City are intervenors in the case.

Click here to read EPA's motion.

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