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 Lung Association Poll: Another Attempt to Influence Public Opinion in the Guise of Reporting It

The American Lung Association (ALA) is hawking the results of an opinion poll that supposedly shows “American voters support the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) setting stronger fine particle (soot) standards to protect public health.” ALA spokesperson Peter Iwanowicz says the poll “affirms that the public is sick of soot and wants EPA to set more protective standards.” Missy Egelsky of pollster Greenberg Quinlan Rosner says the survey “clearly indicates that Americans strongly back the EPA taking action now to limit the amount of soot released by oil refineries, power plants and other industrial facilities” (Greenwire, Nov. 29, 2012). This is all spin.

Most Americans probably have opinions about President Obama’s overall record and many have opinions about the Stimulus, Obamacare, the Keystone XL Pipeline, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the auto industry bailout, and whether Congress should cut spending and/or raise taxes. But how many even know the EPA is revising the national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) for fine particles (PM2.5)?

So the first thing I notice in the Greenberg Quinlan Rosner poll is the absence of an appropriate first question: Please name or describe any major air quality rules the U.S. EPA is expected to complete in the near future? Starting with that question would likely show most people are unaware of the pending NAAQS revision. From which it follows they don’t have an opinion about it (though of course anyone can have an off-the-cuff reaction to anything).

The survey asks a bunch of demographic questions about respondents’ party affiliation, age, gender, and the like, but only two substantive questions. The first is as follows:

As you may know, the EPA is proposing to update air pollution standards by placing stricter limits on the amount of fine particles, also called “soot,” that power plants, oil refineries and other industrial facilities can release. Do you favor or oppose the EPA setting stricter limits on fine particles, also called “soot?”

Of total respondents, 63% were in favor, 30% were opposed. So according to the ALA, the public supports tougher standards by 2 to 1. But since most respondents have probably never heard or thought about the issue until that moment, the results simply confirm what everybody already knows: Most people think air pollution is a bad thing and would prefer to have less of it.

Since what the question elicits from most respondents is their general attitude about air pollution, it is remarkable that 30% answered in the negative. Note too that most of what the public hears about air pollution comes from organizations like the EPA and the ALA, which relentlessly exaggerate  air pollution levels and the associated health risks. [click to continue…]