US court upholds agency's global warming rules

Jun 26, 2012 by DINA CAPPIELLO

(AP) — A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld the first-ever U.S. regulations aimed at reducing the gases blamed for global warming, handing down perhaps the most significant decision on the issue since a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that greenhouse gases could be controlled as air pollutants.

The rules, which had been challenged by industry groups and several states, will reduce emissions of six heat-trapping gases from large industrial facilities such as factories and power plants, as well as from automobile tailpipes.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington said that the Environmental Protection Agency was "unambiguously correct" in using existing federal law to address global warming, denying two of the challenges to four separate regulations and dismissing the others.

Michael Gerrard, director of the Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University, said no one expected the sweeping decision issued by the court Tuesday, and said the move was exceeded in importance only by the Supreme Court ruling five years ago.

It also lands during a presidential election year where there are sharp differences between the two candidates when it comes to how best to deal with global warming.

President Barack Obama's administration has come under fierce criticism from Republicans, including his probable opponent Mitt Romney, for pushing ahead with the regulations after Congress failed to pass climate legislation, and after the Bush administration resisted such steps.

In 2009, the EPA concluded that greenhouse gases endanger human health and welfare, triggering controls on automobiles and other large sources. But the administration has always said it preferred to address global warming through a new law.

Carol Browner, Obama's former energy and climate adviser, said the decision "should put an end, once and for all, to any questions about the EPA's legal authority to protect us from dangerous industrial carbon pollution," adding that it was a "devastating blow" to those who challenge the scientific evidence of climate change.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson called the ruling a "strong validation" of the approach the agency has taken.

The court "found that EPA followed both the science and the law in taking common-sense, reasonable actions to address the very real threat of climate change by limiting greenhouse gas pollution from the largest sources," Jackson said in a statement.

At a meeting in New Hampshire last year Romney, said it was a mistake for the EPA to be involved in reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas.

"My view is that the EPA is getting into carbon and regulating carbon has gone beyond the original intent of the legislation, and I would not go there," he said.

The court on Tuesday seemed to disagree with Romney's assessment when it denied two challenges to the administration's rules, including one arguing that the agency erred in concluding greenhouse gases endanger human health and welfare. Lawyers for the industry groups and states argued that the EPA should have considered the policy implications of regulating heat-trapping gases along with the science. They also questioned the agency's reliance on a body of scientific evidence that they said included significant uncertainties.

The judges — Chief Judge David Sentelle, who was appointed by Republican President Ronald Reagan, and David Tatel and Judith Rogers, both appointed by Democrat Bill Clinton — flatly rejected those arguments.

"This is how science works," the unsigned opinion said. "EPA is not required to re-prove the existence of the atom every time it approaches a scientific question."

Industry groups vowed to fight on.

"Today's ruling is a setback for businesses facing damaging regulations from the EPA," said Jay Timmons, president and chief executive of the National Association of Manufacturers. "We will be considering all of our legal options when it comes to halting these devastating regulations. The debate to address climate change should take place in the U.S. Congress and should foster economic growth and job creation, not impose additional burdens on businesses."

Environmentalists, meanwhile, called it a landmark decision for global warming policy, which has been repeatedly targeted by the Republican-controlled House.

"Today's ruling by the court confirms that EPA's common-sense solutions to address climate pollution are firmly anchored in science and law," said Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund.

The court also dismissed complaints against two other regulations dealing with pollution from new factories and other industrial facilities. The plaintiffs had argued that the EPA misused the Clean Air Act by only requiring controls on the largest sources, when the law explicitly states that much smaller sources should also be covered.

The judges, when presented with these arguments in February, cautioned the industry groups and states to be careful what they wished for. If EPA chose to follow the letter of the law, they said, greenhouse gas regulations would place even more of a burden on industry and other businesses.

Explore further: New research explains wintertime ozone pollution in Utah oil and gas fields

4.8 /5 (13 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

EPA finds greenhouse gases pose a danger to health

Apr 17, 2009

(AP) -- The Environmental Protection Agency concluded Friday that greenhouse gases linked to climate change "endanger public health and welfare," setting the stage for regulating them under federal clean air laws.

Court rules against Bush administration

Mar 20, 2006

A federal appeals court has overturned a clean-air regulation issued by the Bush administration, ruling in favor of environmental advocacy groups.

US sets new carbon standard for power plants

Mar 27, 2012

The United States said Tuesday it was setting the first national standards on carbon emissions from power plants, taking aim at the burning of coal which is considered a top culprit in climate change.

Top US court considers major climate change case

Apr 20, 2011

Supreme Court justices appeared reluctant Tuesday to take a definitive stand in a key global warming case on the right of US states to regulate carbon emissions as a "public nuisance."

Recommended for you

Can fair trade plastic save people and the planet?

6 hours ago

(Phys.org) —It's old news that open-source 3D printing is cheaper than conventional manufacturing, not to mention greener and incredibly useful for making everything from lab equipment to chess pieces. ...

User comments : 24

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

freethinking
2.1 / 5 (15) Jun 26, 2012
Loved the threat, If the EPA chose to follow the letter of the law. With Obama in the WH, he chooses which law to follow, and if there is no law he wants to follow he issues an executive order.

All hail King Obama!
rubberman
3.7 / 5 (15) Jun 26, 2012
Well done EPA, and america in general. I didn't think you had it in you. I like being wrong in cases like this one!
Caliban
3.7 / 5 (12) Jun 26, 2012
"Today's ruling is a setback for businesses facing damaging regulations from the EPA," said Jay Timmons, president and chief executive of the National Association of Manufacturers. "We will be considering all of our legal options when it comes to halting these devastating regulations. The debate to address climate change should take place in the U.S. Congress and should foster economic growth and job creation, not impose additional burdens on businesses."


It is plainly obvious that these regulations most definitely WILL create new jobs, both internal and external, to create, manufacture, install and maintain the equipment and systems necessary to reduce these emissions.

What he means to say here is that the enregy sector will not be thereby mandated greater profitability.

This will also make alt power more competitive across the board, which is what Jay Timmons and the interests he represents are actually concerned about. Their choke hold is slipping.
Vendicar_Decarian
3.8 / 5 (13) Jun 26, 2012
What threat, Tard Boy?

"Loved the threat" - FreeTard

"With Obama in the WH" - FreeTard

What does your whining about Obama have to do with the court ruling on the EPA, other than being a trigger for you to start whining?
Howhot
3.6 / 5 (14) Jun 26, 2012
All hail King Obama!

We are democracy you DIM BULB! Obama isn't a king, just president.

Besides, EPA was correct and the challengers were just polluters. Unless you love supporting polluters, you should take back what you said.
axemaster
3.3 / 5 (12) Jun 27, 2012
I'm an atheist, but I still thank God for this.

Hey God, if you're in the mood, you could inspire Obama to win the election and use the political capital to get some serious climate legislation through Congress.

Man, I wish I could see the look on the Koch brothers faces when the $400 million dollars they're giving Mitt Romney fails to buy him the election. Honestly, when are we going to fix this stuff? Candidates should be using state funds and nothing else. No donations of any kind. People should be elected based on their merits, not based on how corrupt they're willing to become.
Vendicar_Decarian
3.5 / 5 (13) Jun 27, 2012
It is sad isn't it that Libertarian/Conservative members of the supreme court have decided to give corrupt corporations the ability to spend unlimited amounts of money to lie to the American people during elections.

"No donations of any kind. People should be elected based on their merits, not based on how corrupt they're willing to become." - axemaster

http://images.wik...phen.jpg

Here is what one of the Conservative Judges thinks about the American People.
CapitalismPrevails
2.5 / 5 (8) Jun 27, 2012
And these utopian statists are scratching their heads wondering why were not competitive with foreign nations because we leave issues like this up to unelected ACTIVIST judges. We can't be competitive pushing technology which does less with more $ wise. That's @$$ backwards in PRODUCTivity and hence does not not grow our gross domestic PRODUCT.
patnclaire
2 / 5 (4) Jun 27, 2012
I notice that the physorg article did not identify which appeals court this came from. For you citizens of the world, it was the 9th Circut Court of Appeals based in San Francisco. On the Left Coast, in the land of fruits and nuts is the most liberal court of the US. President Obama would love to be on that court as a Justice. Is it any wonder that this decision was handed down? Allied closely with the Court's EPA supporters are the RIAA supporters that quash any sort of legitimate file sharing that you supporters like to use for your music and movies.
Vendicar_Decarian
3.3 / 5 (7) Jun 27, 2012
Every time a court in the U.S. upholds the law, that Republicans don't like, they whine and moan about "activist" judges, and how they must be removed from the bench in order for America to be great again.

Blah, blah, blah, "Activist judges". - CapitalismHasFailed

Meanwhile, Conservative Judges have been a disaster for America, where almost 3 million Americans are now in the U.S. gulag prison system, and where Corporations are now legally entitled to spend unlimited amounts of money to lie to the American People during elections.

Filth.

Vendicar_Decarian
3.3 / 5 (7) Jun 27, 2012
American competitiveness started it's rapid decline to irrelevance during the Reagan Administration and the freedom it gave to American Corporations to fire workers (remember Reagan firing all air traffic controllers in America in order to break their union) - and relocate to other nations where labor costs are lower.

"We can't be competitive pushing technology which does less with more $ wise." - CapitalismHasFailed

It is the view of High Ranking American Conservatives, and Libertarian Traitors, that Americans must suffer a huge reduction in their quality of life in order to maximize profits for their Corporate Masters.

Filth.
patnclaire
1.7 / 5 (3) Jun 27, 2012
'Activist' judges make new law, not uphold existing law. They usurp the Legislative function. If you social architect, agrarian reformers want new law then bug your congressmen.
I agree that too many Americans are in jail. That is not the fault of conservative judges. It is the result of legislators mandating zero-tolerance laws with throw-away-the-key sentences. The problem is state legislators with too much time on their hands and not enough media spotlight. Liberal, agrarian-reformer, progressive media is too busy reporting on Lohan and Madonna.
I agree with you about the ATC union bust. I have a neighbor who claims citizenship in the progressive, democratic party because of being fired in that debacle. No argument from me on that. At one time, I belonged to the Steel workers union.
The quality of my life is just fine, thank you. I have clean water and clean air. Of course, my freedom to pee-lute my own water is restricted. My freedom to burn Autumn leaves is restricted.
ryggesogn2
2.7 / 5 (7) Jun 27, 2012
Did you hear the SCOTUS reaffirmed Citizens United striking down a Montana law that prohibited contribution by corporations?
Vendicar_Decarian
3.4 / 5 (5) Jun 27, 2012
Yes, they were a Koch funded Conservative political group looking to slander Hillary Clinton before the 2008 elections.

Citizens United sought to establish itself as a bona fide commercial film maker, producing several documentary films between 2005 and 2007. By early 2008, it sought to run television commercials to promote its latest political documentary Hillary: The Movie and to air the movie on DirecTV. The movie was highly critical of then-Senator Hillary Clinton, with the District Court describing the movie as an elongated version of a negative 30-second television spot. In January 2008, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the television advertisements for Hillary: The Movie violated the BCRA restrictions of "electioneering communications" within 30 days of a primary. Though the Conservative PAC claimed that the film was fact-based and nonpartisan, the lower court found that the film had no purpose other than to discredit Clinton candidacy.
Vendicar_Decarian
3.3 / 5 (7) Jun 27, 2012
Once again RyggTard has provided evidence of the morally corrupt nature of his own treasonous Libertarian ideology.
kochevnik
3.7 / 5 (3) Jun 30, 2012
ACTIVIST judges
This term is meaningless since your constitution was effectively suspended under the Patriot Act, and Bush was ruled to become US president, even while the Supreme Court has no such jurisdiction to so decide such matters.
ryggesogn2
2.3 / 5 (3) Jun 30, 2012
ACTIVIST judges
This term is meaningless since your constitution was effectively suspended under the Patriot Act, and Bush was ruled to become US president, even while the Supreme Court has no such jurisdiction to so decide such matters.

If the SCOTUS has no value, why do the 'progressives' want to use it to impose laws they can't pass in Congress?
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
1 / 5 (1) Jul 01, 2012
Poor Romney, which can't attack what he once promoted without repercussions. If not this, so the social medicine that has also gone through and will improve a dysfunctional US.

Loved the threat, If the EPA chose to follow the letter of the law. With Obama in the WH, he chooses which law to follow, and if there is no law he wants to follow he issues an executive order.

All hail King Obama!


Well, they argued the law, not the politics. It is the politics that makes presidents and not kings, and frames how they work. Obama is no different and it doesn't make him better or worse, just president.

The important thing is that science win out, since it informs EPA and its politics, and the world, since US is a top AGW polluter.

For you citizens of the world,


And the citizens of the world thanks them and wishes there were more like those. Not enough 'activity' in US on AGW.
Vendicar_Decarian
4.3 / 5 (3) Jul 01, 2012
Yes. America is growing less and less competitive with socialist nations all around the world.

"And these utopian statists are scratching their heads wondering why were not competitive with foreign nations..." - CapitalismHasFailed

Today we learn that Washington DC won't even have electrical power to most of it's citizens until a week from today.

What is it about Capitalist America that keeps it's privatized power grid operators unable to keep the power on when socialist states have no trouble doing so?

Vendicar_Decarian
3.7 / 5 (3) Jul 01, 2012
The U.S. supreme court can't pass laws. It simply has the ability to determine if they are constitutional.

Conservatives tried to Deprive Americans of healthcare by claiming that the law was unconstitutional.

The Republicans were found by the court to be liars.

Why are you lying about the process Ryggtard?

"If the SCOTUS has no value, why do the 'progressives' want to use it to impose laws they can't pass in Congress?" - RyggTard
xen_uno
2.8 / 5 (4) Jul 01, 2012
Well it ISN'T the Supreme Court's job to legislate, regarding treating corporations as individuals and recently ... ObamaCare. They are supposed to strictly interpret cases in light of the constitution, but it seems as though they've become as partisan an everyone else in Washington.

"King" Obama is more or less correct. He is cherry picking the laws he wants enforced. I don't like him. His "Hope and Change" turned into "Business as Usual". His transparency is as opaque as the air over LA and Bejing on a bad morning. Eric Holder is a racist and it would probably help Obama's campaign to get rid of him pronto.

Regarding the EPA ... I side with them 99.9% of the time. We need very strong environmental protection. There is dead and severely polluted areas all over the US. On the CO2 issue, it's defo a worldwide problem since we are fukkin up all the natural sinks. I don't think you can sequester the gas economically so we will feel the pain.
xen_uno
2 / 5 (3) Jul 01, 2012
Liberals-Democrats are liars too. Both parties can't tell the truth to save their face.

Ven - "What is it about Capitalist America that keeps it's privatized power grid operators unable to keep the power on when socialist states have no trouble doing so?"

How the hell would you know? The US isn't totally socialist (yet) and you don't live in those other countries. Downed lines and power outages are a natural when strong winds and heavy rain occur. Stick to science man!
xen_uno
5 / 5 (3) Jul 01, 2012
Koch - "This term is meaningless since your constitution was effectively suspended under the Patriot Act"

Agree 100% ... PA and Homeland Security both need to be torn out by the roots and burned in an effigy.
Vendicar_Decarian
3.7 / 5 (3) Jul 02, 2012
"What is it about Capitalist America that keeps it's privatized power grid operators unable to keep the power on when socialist states have no trouble doing so?" - VD

"How the hell would you know?" - Xen

I can read. Americans seem to be having difficulty on that front as well.

Do you think it might be because private schools in America are doing things like teaching children that the Loch Ness Monster is real and is a dinosaur?

"Downed lines and power outages are a natural when strong winds and heavy rain occur." - xen

Yes. But America seems to be blessed with a privatized power grid that can't seem to plan ahead, has insufficient staff for maintenance, isn't performing preventative maintenance, and the reliability of the system is falling to second world status, while costs are rising.

Privatization has produced decreased reliability, and increase costs for Americans.

Exactly as predicted.