For Immediate Release - March 01, 2012

AG Coakley’s Office Defends EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Regulations Before U.S. Court of Appeals

Massachusetts Leads Coalition of States and National Organizations in Support of EPA

BOSTON – Defending the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) determination that motor vehicle emissions are contributing to climate change, Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office took the lead on behalf of a coalition of states and environmental organizations in arguments this week before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The proceedings will determine the lawfulness of the EPA’s current greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations that are being challenged by groups representing the coal and petroleum industry.

“It is crucial that we come to the fundamental understanding that motor vehicle emissions are a key contributor to climate change,” AG Coakley said. “The EPA’s regulations are not only legal, but critical to helping reduce these emissions.”

A portion of the arguments were dedicated to defending the EPA’s Endangerment Determination – a result of the Supreme Court’s 2007 decision in Massachusetts v. EPA that greenhouse gases are a pollutant and could therefore be regulated under the Clean Air Act.

On behalf of the coalition, the AG’s Office argued that the Endangerment Determination is supported by the consensus of scientists working on the subject and a mountain of peer-reviewed research, while the petitioners challenging the rule offered a rehash of arguments previously rejected in the 2007 decision.

After extensive public comments and accepting the consensus conclusion of climate scientists in numerous studies, the EPA published its determination in December 2009. The agency also set new motor vehicle emissions standards for GHGs and adopted a separate regulation setting forth a plan and schedule for establishing standards for new large stationary sources of greenhouse gases such as power plants and factories. 

Petitions challenging this suite of greenhouse gas regulations were filed by a variety of industry organizations, advocacy groups, and some states, led by Texas and Virginia. Massachusetts joined with Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, and the City of New York, as well as a number of national environmental organizations to intervene in the case in support of the EPA’s rules. 

Carol Iancu, Assistant Attorney General in AG Coakley’s Environmental Protection Division, joined with U.S. Department of Justice attorneys in arguing in support of the rule. With her on the brief for Massachusetts is Tracy Triplett, Assistant Attorney General, and lawyers for other coalition states and organizations.

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