Federal appeal court rules agency does have the right to limit greenhouse gas output from power plants and vehicles
A federal appeals court today upheld legal limits on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and vehicles in what was hailed as a “huge victory” for green groups and the Obama administration.
A three judge panel unanimously upheld the view put forward by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that carbon dioxide is a danger to public health that can be regulated under the existing Clean Air Act.
In a landmark ruling the judges acknowledged that it is “unambiguously correct” that carbon dioxide can present a danger and declared that opponents of the EPA have no right under law to challenge rules attempting to restrict greenhouse gas emissions.
Companies, business groups, and states such as Texas and Virginia had tried to use the courts to block the agency imposing rules to curb carbon emissions, filing more than 60 law suits between them questioning the agency’s authority. The legal actions were consolidated and heard together in February, paving the way for today’s ruling.
The 82 page ruling concluded the EPA had a “substantial record evidence” that greenhouse gases had probably caused the climate to warm over the past few decades.
The court said it did not have the power to review when rules affecting power plants could come in or the scope of the regulations, but upheld the Obama administration’s first set of clean car and fuel economy standards, issued jointly by the EPA and the Transportation Department in 2009.
The move seems to leave the way clear for the EPA to complete the first national limits on carbon pollution from new power plants that were proposed in March, and finalise the second round of clean car standards later this summer that will cut new cars’ carbon pollution in half and double their fuel efficiency to 54.5 mpg by 2025.
In a statement, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), called the ruling “a resounding victory for science, the rule of law, and common sense”.
“These rulings clear the way for EPA to keep moving forward under the Clean Air Act to limit carbon pollution from motor vehicles, new power plants, and other big industrial sources,” said David Doniger, senior attorney for the NRDC’s climate and clean air programme.
“The court upheld the agency’s careful determination, based on a mountain of scientific evidence, that carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping pollutants threaten our health and our planet.”