Supreme Court asked to hear EPA greenhouse gas challenge

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 19, 2013 8:47 PM

By Valerie Volcovici

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Top industry groups and a dozen states have asked the Supreme Court to review a lower court decision upholding the Obama administration's plan to limit greenhouse gas emissions generated by power plants and vehicles.

The parties, which had until Friday to submit petitions to the high court, are challenging a 2012 decision by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld rules issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The petitioners attacked the rules on various grounds, but all argued that the agency should not use the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon emissions.

"EPA's ill-founded regulations represent a sweeping expansion of its regulatory power under the Clean Air Act and would impose new requirements on potentially millions of stationary sources across the country," the American Chemistry Council (ACC) said on Thursday.

The ACC was joined by other industry associations including the American Petroleum Institute, the National Association of Home Builders and the National Association of Manufacturers.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which ruled in favor of the EPA last year, denied the group's request for a rehearing in December, prompting the ACC and other organizations to turn to the Supreme Court.

The petitioners said the EPA incorrectly used the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) program of the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases from power plants. They said the program only applies to six other kinds of air pollutants.

Another association, the Energy-Intensive Manufacturers Working Group on Greenhouse Gas Regulation, also took issue with the EPA's use of the PSD to regulate greenhouse gases.

"(The) petitioner submits it is not possible to find a regulatory structure less compatible with the regulation of carbon," the group wrote, adding that applying the PSD to carbon would result in massive numbers of facilities being regulated.

One petition focused on a core aspect of the EPA's greenhouse gas rules - the scientific "endangerment finding" that underpins its entire greenhouse gas program.

Lawyers with the conservative Pacific Legal Foundation argued that the EPA failed to submit its "endangerment finding" for independent scientific review by the EPA's Science Advisory Board as required by the Clean Air Act.

Other groups that filed petitions include the Utility Air Regulatory Group, an association of electric utilities and electricity-generating companies; 12 states led by Texas; and the conservative Southeastern Legal Foundation, which represents Republican lawmakers Michele Bachmann and Joe Barton, among others.

(Reporting By Valerie Volcovici; editing by Xavier Briand)