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EPA's Greenhouse Gas Rules Unanimously Backed By Federal Appeals Court

WASHINGTON, D.C. - (Mealey's) A panel of the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 26 found that rules and findings by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that regulate greenhouse gas emissions from cars, light trucks and large, stationary emission producers are neither "arbitrary nor capricious" and are "unambiguously correct"; it also found that various state and industry appellants lack standing to sue the agency (Coalition for Responsible Regulation, Inc., et al. v. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 09-1322, D.C. Cir.).

(Opinion available. Document #08-120713-002Z.) 

After the U.S. Supreme Court in 2007 clarified that greenhouse gas is an "air pollutant" subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act (CAA) in Massachusetts v. EPA (549 U.W. 497 [2007] [enhanced version available to subscribers]), the EPA promulgated a series of greenhouse gas rules.  The agency first issued an "Endangerment Finding" in which it found that greenhouse gases may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.

The EPA then issued its "Tailpipe Rule," which set emission standards for cars and light trucks. 

Finally, the agency determined that the CAA required major stationary sources of greenhouse gases to obtain construction and operating permits.  To avoid overwhelming burdens on greenhouse gas producers who needed permits, the agency issued Timing and Tailoring Rules that required only the largest stationary sources of greenhouse gases to get permits. 

26 Appeals Consolidated 

Various state governments and industry groups challenged the rules and findings, arguing that they were based on improper constructions of the CAA and were arbitrary and capricious. 

Twenty-six appeals were consolidated by the District of Columbia U.S. Court of Appeals. 

In an 82-page per curiam opinion, an appeals court panel found that the Endangerment Finding and Tailpipe Rules are neither arbitrary nor capricious.  It also found that the EPA's interpretation of the governing CAA provisions is "unambiguously correct."   

Lack Standing 

Finally, the panel found that none of the petitioners has standing to challenge the Timing and Tailoring Rules and dismissed all appeals for lack of jurisdiction. 

The panel consisted of Chief Judge David B. Sentelle and Circuit Judges Judith W. Rogers and David S. Tatel.

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