For Immediate Release - June 23, 2014

Supreme Court Upholds EPA’s Regulation of Greenhouse Gas Pollution From Large Stationary Sources

AG Coakley Submitted Brief in Support of EPA’s Use of Clean Air Act to Control Stationary Source Emissions to Protect the Public from the Dangers of Climate Change

BOSTON – Attorney General Martha Coakley issued this statement today following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision affirming the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) use of the Clean Air Act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from large stationary sources:

“The Supreme Court’s ruling today upholds the EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from the largest, most polluting stationary sources under the Clean Air Act,” AG Coakley said. “We are pleased by the Court’s continued recognition of the EPA’s authority to address dangerous greenhouse gas pollution. Massachusetts has been a national leader in pursuing federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, and we believe that this ruling will maintain EPA’s direction on this important issue.”

While the Court’s decision limits the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions to facilities that are already required to obtain permits, ensuring that national air quality standards are maintained, the regulations upheld today will reach major emitters – such as coal-fired power plants – responsible for about 83 percent of stationary source greenhouse gas emissions nationwide.


In January, AG Coakley joined 14 other states and the City of New York on a Supreme Court brief in the case, Utility Air Regulatory Group v. Environmental Protection Agency, supporting the EPA’s application of the Clean Air Act’s Prevention of Significant Deterioration Program to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources. In February, the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case.

In the case, various industry groups and a collection of states challenged the determination that under the Clean Air Act, the EPA’s 2011 issuance of the “Tailpipe Rule” to control automobile emissions triggered a regulatory obligation for the agency to regulate greenhouse gases from stationary sources.

The “Tailpipe Rule” stems from the landmark decision in the 2007 case, Massachusetts v. EPA, in which the Supreme Court ruled that in the Clean Air Act, Congress gave EPA authority to regulate greenhouse gases. After Massachusetts v. EPA, the EPA took several significant actions including making an “Endangerment Finding” in which it determined that greenhouse gas emissions endanger public health and welfare.  As a result of the finding, the EPA issued the “Tailpipe Rule” and the “Tailoring Rule” to limit emissions from stationary sources like power plants and refineries.

In June 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld the Endangerment Finding and the EPA’s regulation of climate change pollution from motor vehicle emissions, issuing a strong, unanimous opinion. The AG’s Office led a coalition of states, in coordination with numerous environmental groups, in defending the EPA’s Endangerment Finding and other regulations in February 2012.

For years, AG Coakley has been a leader in pursuing federal regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.  AG Coakley strongly supports the EPA’s recent actions on this front.  For example, in September 2013, the EPA issued a new proposal for carbon pollution from new power plants and earlier this month, the EPA issued a proposal to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants.  These historic regulations will protect public health and our economy and provide opportunities for states to work cooperatively with EPA to implement them.

This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Carol Iancu and Melissa Hoffer, Chief of AG Coakley’s Environmental Protection Division.


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