Appeals Court Upholds EPA “Endangerment” Finding on Climate

An appeals court today said EPA’s finding that carbon pollution and global warming constitute a danger to public health and that the EPA is obligated to act.
In a victory for advocates of EPA action to reduce global warming pollution, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals has just announced that EPA acted properly in assessing the risks of climate change and has taken appropriate action under its authority.  The decision is a blow to petitioners, various states and industry groups, who are challenging pollution standards the EPA is promulgating to rein in global warming. Industry was arguing EPA was improperly construing the Clean Air Act and that it was acting arbitrarily.

The Court, composed of both Democratic and Republican appointees, differed and sided with EPA. It concluded 1) the Endangerment Finding and Tailpipe Rule are neither arbitrary nor capricious; 2) EPA’s interpretation of the governing CAA provisions is unambiguously correct; and 3) no petitioner has standing to challenge the Timing and Tailoring Rules. “We thus dismiss for lack of jurisdiction all petitions for review of the Timing and Tailoring Rules, and deny the remainder of the petitions,” the Court said.

NWF, which intervened on EPA’s behalf in the case, applauded the decision. Joe Mendelson, NWF director of climate and energy policy and a co-counsel on the historic “endangerment” case, said:

“This decision is three strikes and you’re out. It puts to rest a mob of big polluters’ attempt to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from using the Clean Air Act to limit carbon pollution and tackle the threat of climate change.”

A copy of the decision is here: DC Circuit Opinion 6-26-12

The case comes less than a week after the U.S. Supreme Court in American Electric Power v. Connecticut strongly reiterated the 2007 endangerment ruling stating, “Massachusetts made plain that emissions of carbon dioxide qualify as air pollution subject to regulation under the [Clean Air] Act”.