Corrected: US court rejects industry challenge to EPA greenhouse gas rules

26 June 2012 18:47  [Source: ICIS news]

Correction: In the ICIS story headlined “US court rejects industry challenge to EPA greenhouse gas rules” dated 26 June 2012, please read in the 11th paragraph … The coalition includes the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) and the American Petroleum Institute (API) … instead of … The coalition includes the American Chemistry Council (ACC) …. A corrected story follows.

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--A US appellate court on Tuesday dismissed the legal challenge to federal regulation of greenhouse gases (GHG) filed by a broad coalition of industries and several states, saying the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may rightly impose limits on such emissions.

Manufacturing interests quickly termed the ruling a major and costly setback for US industry, agriculture and other businesses.

Various state governments joined an industrial and manufacturing coalition in challenging the December 2009 “endangerment finding” by the EPA that carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases are pollutants within the meaning of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and that the agency had authority to regulate and limit such emissions.

The state and industry petitioners also challenged the EPA’s May 2010 “tailoring rule” in which the agency limited its initial GHG emissions restrictions only to major facilities, such as power plants, chemicals factories, refineries and other production entities.

By its own admission, the EPA said that its regulation of GHG emissions for all sources as defined by the Clean Air Act would have an “absurd result”, requiring millions of entities, including farms, hospitals, universities, schools and even many private homes to obtain emissions permits from the agency.

In challenging the tailoring rule, industry argued that the EPA had no authority to focus enforcement on some of the larger but not all GHG emissions sources.

The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit ruled that the EPA’s “endangerment finding” was neither arbitrary or capricious, and that the agency’s interpretation of the Clean Air Act as it applies to greenhouse gas “is unambiguously correct”.

The court did not rule directly on the challenge to the EPA’s “tailoring rule”, saying that none of the petitioners in the case has standing, meaning none was legally entitled to contest that EPA action.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) was quick to condemn the court’s ruling, saying that it “is a setback for businesses facing damaging regulations from the EPA”.

Speaking on behalf of Coalition for Responsible Regulation (CRR), NAM president Jay Timmons said the many plaintiffs within the coalition “will be considering all of our legal options” in the wake of the court ruling.

The coalition includes the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) and the American Petroleum Institute (API) along with a variety of foods, agriculture and other manufacturing or energy interests.

Timmons indicated that NAM and the coalition would press the case, either in the courts or through Congress or both.

Calling the EPA regulation of greenhouse gases “one of the most costly complex and burdensome regulations facing manufacturers”, Timmons said the rules will inhibit companies’ “ability to hire, invest and grow”.

“EPA is adding to the mounting uncertainty facing manufactures of all sizes,” he said.

“The debate to address climate change should take place in the US Congress,” he added.

Congress considered a cap-and-trade greenhouse gases bill in 2009 but failed to approve it.

Paul Hodges studies key influences shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy

By: Joe Kamalick
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