Texas, Virginia file suit to challenge EPA on CO2

17 February 2010 00:26  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS news)--Texas and Virginia filed suit on Tuesday in US federal court seeking to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to regulate and limit the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions, saying the agency’s action was illegal.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott filed a complaint with the US Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia asking that the federal court formally review the 7 December action by the agency.

Abbott also filed a petition with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), asking that the agency reconsider its ruling.

Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli also filed suit in the same appellate court and submitted a petition to EPA, both of which challenge the agency’s legal grounds and procedures for issuing its “endangerment finding” in December.

In its 7 December ruling, the EPA held that carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHG) pose a risk to human health and the environment and consequently are subject to regulation under the federal Clean Air Act (CAA).

In issuing its endangerment finding, the EPA cited reports and data provided by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its reports on global warming and the likelihood that such atmospheric and temperature changes are caused by human activity.

In his petition to EPA and the appellate court, Abbott said that the agency’s endangerment finding for greenhouse gases will lead to “unprecedented bureaucratic licensing and regulatory burdens on farmers, ranchers, small businesses, hospitals and even schools”.

“Virtually every sector of the Texas economy will be affected by EPA’s endangerment finding,” Abbott said.

However, he added: “Despite the endangerment finding’s remarkably broad impact, EPA’s administrator relied on a fundamentally flawed and legally unsupported methodology to reach her decision”.

Abbott said that although EPA administrator Lisa Jackson was legally required to conduct an independent scientific assessment of the environmental impact of greenhouse gases, “the administrator outsourced the actual scientific study, as well as her required review of the scientific literature necessary to make that assessment”.

“In doing so, EPA relied primarily on the conclusions of outside organizations, particularly the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,” Abbott’s petition said.

“EPA’s reliance on the IPCC’s assessment to make a decision of this magnitude is not legally supported,” he added.

Abbott cited various news reports and private sector and foreign government investigations into “troubling revelations about the conduct, objectivity, reliability and propriety of the IPCC’s processes, assessments and contributors”.

Accusing the IPCC of “improper collusion and cover-ups”, Abbott said that IPCC’s "methodologies and conclusions have been discredited”.

He also cited various bills now pending in the US Congress aimed at blocking EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gases.

“Notwithstanding the multitude and scope of these responsive measures, EPA has not indicated a willingness to review allegations that have shocked and appalled policy makers, regulators, scientists and concerned citizens worldwide,” Abbott said.

Consequently, the Texas petition said: “this State must exercise its legal right to challenge a fundamentally flawed and legally unjustifiable process that will have a tremendously harmful impact on the lives of Texans and the Texas economy”.

The Texas petition essentially demands that EPA start over, beginning with its own rigorous scientific assessment before reaching “a trillion-dollar decision” on whether greenhouse gases constitute a danger to the public health and welfare.

The petitions and court filings by Texas and Virginia are expected to be followed by other states. 

These state government actions come as major US business groups have filed similar challenges to the EPA endangerment finding.

The US Chamber of Commerce has taken legal action to challenge the EPA’s administrative process in reaching the endangerment finding.  That action contends that EPA did not follow proper law in reaching its finding, but the chamber’s challenge does not go into the science underlying the claims of anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming.

A separate legal action has been initiated by a coalition headed by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) challenging the scientific basis of the agency’s action, attacking the scientific rationale for IPCC’s the EPA’s findings for anthropogenic global warming.

US petrochemical producers, downstream chemical makers, other manufacturers and the energy industry also oppose the EPA's endangerment finding for greenhouse gases.

The National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA), the American Petroleum Institute (API) and other industry groups joined the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) on Tuesday in filing similar court challenges and petitions against the EPA.

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By: Joe Kamalick
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