U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Coal & Gas Industries Attack EPA's Greenhouse Gas Endangerment Finding

Epalogo In a predictable legal free-for-all, industry groups joined the state of Texas and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce late last week in filing challenges to EPA’s “endangerment” finding for greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean AIr Act, while sixteen states and several environmental groups joined the fray by seeking to intervene in the industry challenges. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will hear the cases.  All of the various petitions for review will almost certainly be consolidated.

Background:  On December 7, 2009, the EPA Administrator signed two distinct findings regarding greenhouse gases under section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act:

  • Endangerment Finding: The Administrator found that the current and projected concentrations of the six key well-mixed greenhouse gases–carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)–in the atmosphere threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations.
  • Cause or Contribute Finding: The Administrator found that the combined emissions of these well-mixed greenhouse gases from new motor vehicles and new motor vehicle engines contribute to the greenhouse gas pollution which threatens public health and welfare.

These findings do not themselves impose any requirements on industry or other entities  See EPA’s background materials supporting its greenhouse gas endangerment findings under section 202 of the Clean Air Act.

The industry challengers include Ohio Coal Association, the Utility Air Regulatory Group, the Portland Cement Association, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, along with 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 Petrochemical and Refiners Association, and the Western States Petroleum Association. Ten other petitions were filed by the American Iron and Steel Institute, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Mining Association, Peabody Energy, the Southeastern Legal Foundation on behalf of 13 House Republicans and business associations, and the so-called “Coalition for Responsible Regulation”.

The state and environmental groups seeking to intervene to support EPA’s endangerment finding include a coalition of 16 states and New York City, and groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Defense Fund, Sierra Club and the National Wildlife Federation.

In a statement reported by the New York Times, Environmental Defense Fund Texas regional director Jim Marston said: “The lawsuit filed by Governor Perry is asking the Environmental Protection Agency to ignore the Supreme Court’s decision in U.S. vs. Massachusetts. 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.”

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