US high court agrees to hear challenge to EPA greenhouse rules

15 October 2013 17:04 Source:ICIS News

US high court agrees to hear challenge to EPA greenhouse rulesWASHINGTON (ICIS)--The US Supreme Court said on Tuesday that it will consider a challenge to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) rule that limits emissions by power plants, refineries, chemicals facilities and other industrial sites.

The high court said that it would hear challenges filed by multiple industry associations and state governments that have complained that the EPA overstepped its authority under the Clean Air Act (CAA) in moving to regulate emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases (GHG) from “stationary sources”, meaning industrial facilities and ultimately almost any energy-generating site in the country.

The plaintiffs in the case - representing scores of industries, members of Congress and law foundations - are asking the nine justices to overturn the June 2012 ruling by the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit that upheld the EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gases.

The Supreme Court’s decision to hear their appeal was welcomed on Tuesday by energy and refining interests among others.

“Today’s decision by the court brings us one step closer to correcting a very costly regulation that will put significant strain on every state’s resources,” said Rich Moskowitz, general counsel at the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM).

“We are pleased that the court will review EPA’s greenhouse gas regulation” under the CAA, he added.

Moskowitz said that EPA’s interpretation of the Clean Air Act “would transform a permitting regime designed by Congress to address the largest industrial sources’ emissions of criteria pollutants to a far-reaching regulatory programme that potentially applies to thousands of small sources that Congress never intended to be subjected to onerous permitting requirements”.

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) said that "We are pleased that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear our case".

"EPA's flawed regulations [of GHG emissions] would impose new requirements on potentially millions of stationary sources across the country," the council said.

"We hope that the court will correct EPA's egregious misreading of the Clean Air Act, which even the agency concedes leads to 'absurd results'," the ACC added.

Harry Ng, general counsel for the American Petroleum Institute (API), also welcomed the high court’s decision, saying “We’re pleased that the court has agreed to review our petition - alongside several others - and we look forward to presenting our case”.

“The EPA is seeking to regulate US manufacturing in a way that Congress never planned and never intended,” Ng said, adding: “EPA’s rules overstep the authority granted by Congress in the Clean Air Act.”

In agreeing to hear arguments against the EPA's GHG rules, the Supreme Court said that the plaintiffs will have one hour to make their case in a hearing before the court at a date to be set later.

The high court’s decision to hear the appeal from the circuit court ruling is seen as significant because the Supreme Court only rarely agrees to challenges to lower court decisions.

In Tuesday’s announcement, the court agreed to hear only the challenge to the EPA greenhouse gases issue and one other appeal - but it declined to hear more than 225 other such petitions on a wide variety of legal issues.

The multi-industry appeal to the Supreme Court was considered by many to be a long shot, and the fact that the high court has agreed to hear the case indicates that the nine justices believe that the petitioners may have a case.

By Joe Kamalick