Federal Appeals Court Again Upholds EPA Standards Regulating Greenhouse Gas Emissions
AG Coakley’s Office Led Coalition of States and National Organizations in Support of EPA
BOSTON – A federal appeals court today once again upheld EPA standards that regulate greenhouse gas emissions when it rejected a request to revisit this summer’s ruling, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.
The AG’s office strongly defended the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) determination that motor vehicle emissions of greenhouse gases contribute to climate change, endangering public health and welfare. The AG’s office, along with New York and California, led a coalition of states and environmental organizations in arguments before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in February 2012. This past June, the Court ruled in favor of the EPA, upholding the EPA’s endangerment finding and greenhouse gas regulatory actions. Today, the same federal appeals court rejected petitions to revisit and rehear the case. In today’s decision, the court observed that these cases involve "matters of exceptional importance."
“We applaud the Court’s decision to uphold EPA’s determination that greenhouse gases endanger the health and welfare of all our citizens,” said AG Coakley. “The challenged EPA regulations remain an absolutely critical part of the ongoing effort to address climate change.”
On behalf of the coalition, the AG’s Office successfully 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 Supreme Court’s 2007 decision in Massachusetts v. EPA. That landmark decision determined that greenhouse gases are a pollutant and could therefore be regulated under the Clean Air Act.
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 separate regulations setting forth a plan and schedule for phasing in standards for large stationary sources of greenhouse gases such as power plants and factories. The Court’s ruling today upholds all of EPA’s actions.
Massachusetts was joined by California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, 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. 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.
Carol Iancu and Tracy Triplett, Assistant Attorneys General in AG Coakley’s Environmental Protection Division, with former Division Chief William L. Pardee handled this case and joined U.S. Department of Justice attorneys and others in arguing in support of the rule.