Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Federal Appeals Court Upholds EPA Authority on CO2

The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit unanimously upheld the Eenvironmental Protection Agency's (EPA) central 2009 finding that greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide endanger public health and likely have been responsible for global warming over the past half century.

The opinion said the EPA

"marshaled substantial scientific evidence" to support its findings. The existence of some uncertainty does not, without more, warrant invalidation of an endangerment finding."

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in 2007 that the Clean Air Act not only gave the EPA such power, but obligated the agency to exercise it if greenhouse gases were found to be harmful.  After Mr. Obama's EPA followed up on the high-court ruling with new regulations, industry groups sued, saying there was too much uncertainty about global warming for the agency to act as it did.Tuesday's ruling flatly rejected that contention.

Electric Utilities that use coal believe that the Clean Air Act is ill-suited to handle issues like greenhouse gases, and that Congress should be the policy maker in this area.   The challengers could ask the full appeals court to rehear the case or seek Supreme Court review.

The court also upheld EPA rules that drew on its 2009 finding, including greenhouse-gas emissions standards for cars that took effect beginning with the 2012 model year. Unlike some other industries, auto makers support the Obama administration on the greenhouse-gas rules, saying it is easier to have a common national standard than to leave regulation to the 50 states, some of which would be likely to adopt their own rules if Washington didn't.
The ruling allows the EPA to move forward with additional efforts to limit greenhouse-gas emissions from industrial sources. The EPA is now working to make final its first set of national limits on carbon dioxide from new coal-fired power plants. The standards, first proposed in March, are expected to make construction of new coal plants increasingly unlikely as power generators opt for natural gas. (WSJ, 6/26/2012)

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