Coalition for Responsible Regulation v. EPA

Post image for Will the Supreme Court Review EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Regulations? Part II

In Coalition for Responsible Regulation v. EPA, petitioners — a coalition of industry groups, states, and non-profit organizations — sought to overturn the EPA’s endangerment, tailpipe, triggering, and tailoring rules for greenhouse gases (GHGs). In June of last year, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the EPA, upholding the four GHG rules. In August, coalition members petitioned for an en banc (full court) rehearing of the case. On Dec. 20, 2012 the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the petitions by 5-2.

However, given the importance of the issues and the strength of the two dissenting opinions, the case may go to the Supreme Court. Last week, I reviewed Judge Janice Rogers Brown’s dissenting opinion. Today, I review Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s dissent.

Judge Brown chiefly addresses the “interpretative shortcomings” of the Mass. v. EPA Supreme Court decision, which authorized the EPA to regulate GHGs via the Clean Air Act (CAA). Kavanaugh directs his fire at the opinion, shared by the EPA and the five-judge majority, that the CAA’s Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) preconstruction permitting program applies to GHGs, and at the agency’s attempt to “tailor” away the consequent “absurd results” by rewriting the statute. [click to continue…]

Post image for Will the Supreme Court Review EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Regulations?

Powerful dissenting opinions can sometimes persuade a higher court to review a lower court’s ruling. Massachusetts v. EPA (2007), the Supreme Court decision empowering the EPA to act as a super legislature and ‘enact’ climate policy, is a prime example.

In 2005, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals held that the Bush administration EPA properly exercised its discretion when it denied a petition by eco-litigation groups to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from new motor vehicles under §202 of the Clean Air Act (CAA). I remember feeling relieved but disappointed. The 2-1 majority ducked the central issue, namely, whether the CAA authorizes the EPA to regulate GHGs as climate change agents. In contrast, Judge David Tatel’s dissent made a strong argument that the EPA does have the power to regulate GHGs and, consequently, has a duty to determine whether GHG emissions endanger public health or welfare. Tatel’s opinion was a key factor persuading the Supreme Court to hear the case.

The Court in Massachusetts ruled in favor of petitioners, setting the stage for the EPA’s ongoing, ever-expanding regulation of GHG emissions from both mobile and stationary sources.

The EPA’s greenhouse regulatory surge, however, is not yet ‘settled law.’ Recent strong dissenting opinions by two D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals judges may persuade the Supreme Court to review one or more of the agency’s GHG rules — or even reassess its ruling in Mass. v. EPA. [click to continue…]

Post image for Attorney Peter Glaser’s “Morning After” Reflections on the D.C. Circuit Court GHG Decision

Despite the disappointing decision yesterday, it would be well to remember that the real damage was done in the Supreme Court’s 5-4 Massachusetts decision, where EPA was found to have authority to regulate GHGs under the CAA so long as it determined that GHGs endanger the public health and welfare. 

. . .the Massachusetts decision was a real travesty.  It is impossible to review the history of the public debate on GHG regulation in this country beginning in the 1980s, when potential climate change first came to prominence, and conclude that authority to regulate GHGs was always available, hiding in plain sight in the CAA as first enacted in 1970. The Supreme Court said in the 2001 American Trucking Associations decision, in language that is often cited, that Congress does not “hide elephants in mouseholes.”  Evidently, in the case of EPA GHG regulation, Congress did.

In the end, the most rational thing for the country to do on GHGs is for Congress to enact legislation that gets EPA out of the GHG regulatory business entirely.  — Peter Glaser

In Massachustts v. EPA, the 5-4 majority argued: (1) The Clean Air Act (CAA) defines “air pollutant” as any airborne substance whatsoever; (2) the EPA has a mandatory duty to regulate air pollutants emitted by automobiles if the associated “air pollution” “may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health and welfare”; and (3) “welfare” effects include changes in “weather and climate.” Given these premises, the Court basically left the EPA one way to avoid regulating GHGs: Cancel its membership in the self-anointed “scientific consensus” — the climate alarm movement — that the agency had spent years promoting and leading. No chance of that happening.

For reasons discussed here and here, the lynchpin of the Massachusetts Court’s argument, premise (1), was a misreading of the CAA definition of “air pollutant.” At a minimum, respondent EPA’s opinion that carbon dioxide (CO2) is not an air pollutant was a “permissible construction” of the statute and thus should have been accorded deference under the Court’s Chevron Step 2 test. If the GHG regime EPA is building were proposed in legislation and put to a vote, Congress would reject it. Congress would surely have rejected the EPA’s GHG agenda in 1970, when it enacted the CAA and defined “air pollutant.” The terms “greenhouse gas” and “greenhouse effect” do not even occur in the CAA. Only as amended in 1990 does the CAA even obliquely address the issue of global climate change. Congress considered and rejected regulatory climate policies in the debates on the 1990 CAA Amendments. The very provisions tacitly addressing climate change — CAA Secs. 103(g) and 602(e) — admonish the EPA not to adopt “pollution control requirements” for CO2, and not to regulate substances based on their “global warming potential.”

With the case law on GHG regulation hopelessly botched by the Supreme Court, only Congress can rein in the EPA — and only if there is a change of management in the White House and the Senate in November.

Peter Glaser’s full commentary on the D.C. Circuit Court decision follows. [click to continue…]

Post image for Inspector General Report on EPA Endangerment Finding: Did Agency Outsource its Judgment?

Did EPA exercise independent judgment, as required by Sec. 202 of the Clean Air Act (CAA), when it determined that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions endanger public health and welfare? Or did the agency improperly outsource its judgment to third-party assessment reports, such as those produced by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)?

This is a key bone of contention in Coalition for Responsible Regulation v. EPA, a case before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, in which petitioners seek to overturn EPA’s GHG regulations.

Tonight (September 30), the Coalition for Responsible Regulation filed a motion asking the Court to “take judicial notice” of the EPA Inspector General’s (IG’s) recent report, Procedural Review of EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Endangerment Finding Data Quality Processes, and EPA’s comments thereon (Appendix G). Those comments appear to contradict EPA’s legal position that, in developing the Technical Support Document (TSD) for its Endangerment Rule, EPA conducted an independent review of the science, as required by the statute.  [click to continue…]