EPA Greenhouse Gas Standards upheldThe big news in environmental compliance & reporting this week is that the D.C. Court of Appeals has upheld the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) findings on Greenhouse Gases (GHGs), completely dismissing all of the challenges, including 60 lawsuits presented by concerned industry groups.

    A large number of industry groups, including representatives from the chemical, energy, farming, and mining industries, and from states, including Texas and Virginia challenged the EPA’s findings, claiming that there was not enough hard data to support the EPA’s decision to regulate GHGs and establish new rulings. As with any new regulation, there was wide-spread worry that the new regulations would be costly and overly burdensome.

    “Companies such as Massey Energy Co., business groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and states led by Texas and Virginia sought to stop the agency through more than 60 lawsuits. Some argued that the agency relied on biased data from outside scientists.” (Bloomberg.com)

    However, the Federal Court did not agree with the challengers:

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected the challenge to the agency’s authority, saying the EPA’s “interpretation of the . . . Clean Air Act provisions is unambiguously correct.” It said the EPA’s rules targeting large polluters could not be challenged because of the authority granted the agency in an earlier Supreme Court ruling.” (Washington Post)

    With its findings supported by the Court, the EPA can now proceed with its Greenhouse Gas standards for new cars beginning with the 2012 model year and with the newly established rules on permits for power plants and factories.

    The GHG regulations were first proposed March 2012, and were quickly challenged:

    “The proposed standard, which only applies to power plants built in the future, is flexible and would help minimize carbon pollution through the deployment of the same types of modern technologies and steps that power companies are already taking to build the next generation of power plants. EPA’s proposal is in line with these investments and will ensure that this progress toward a cleaner, safer and more modern power sector continues. The proposed standards can be met by a range of power facilities burning different fossil fuels, including natural gas technologies that are already widespread, as well as coal with technologies to reduce carbon emissions. Even without today’s action, the power plants that are currently projected to be built going forward would already comply with the standard. As a result, EPA does not project additional cost for industry to comply with this standard.” (From the EPA newsroom)

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    Alex Chamberlain
    Post by Alex Chamberlain
    June 29, 2012
    Alex Chamberlain is a writer for ERA Environmental Management Solutions.