The Next Step in Defending EPA’s Historic Greenhouse Gas Rules

EDF continues to defend the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) historic greenhouse gas rules, this time against a petition to the Supreme Court.

A broad coalition of groups just asked the High Court to deny requests to review the unanimous D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision upholding those vital greenhouse gas rules.

The groups that filed briefs yesterday are:

These four short and succinct filings responded to hundreds of pages of industry petitions attacking EPA’s greenhouse gas standards.

Our briefs emphasize that there is no reason for the Supreme Court to re-decide issues addressed twice in the last five years, or to take up questions of statutory interpretation that have been resolved for more than thirty years.

As EPA put it, the greenhouse gas rules:

Represent … an unexceptional application of settled principles of statutory construction and administrative law.

Nine petitioners have asked the Supreme Court to re-hear the case, and an equal number of amici – or “friend of the court” – briefs have been filed.

Our opponents have presented the Court with a smorgasbord of claims, ranging from challenges to the fundamental science of climate change, to spurious suggestions that EPA shouldn’t set standards for reducing carbon pollution from cars unless it can singlehandedly and in one fell swoop solve the problem of climate change.

The petitioners complain, as they have before, about permitting rules for heavy polluters that require power plants, refineries, and other large industrial sources to consider common-sense energy efficiency measures before building new plants or remodeling old ones.

These arguments are old and tired.

The Supreme Court has twice concluded, in Massachusetts v. EPA and AEP v. Connecticut, that the Clean Air Act applies to greenhouse gases.

The vehicle rules being challenged now will reduce carbon pollution by almost one billion tons and provide America with monetary benefits of up to 1.2 trillion dollars.

And most important – these rules will protect our lives and health.

As EPA notes, by reducing carbon pollution now, these rules help avoid:

[A]n increase in heat-related deaths; an increase in respiratory illness and premature death relating to poor air quality; an increased risk of death, injury, and disease relating to extreme weather events; and an increase in food- and water-borne diseases.

Arguments attacking EPA’s statutory interpretation of permitting rules could have, and in many cases were, unsuccessfully made more than thirty years ago.

EPA, the states, and our environmental coalition all conveyed the same message to the Court — the petitions are much ado about nothing.

Our opponents imply that thousands or millions of businesses may be affected by EPA’s greenhouse gas rules.

In reality fewer than 200 sources — all of them large polluters — applied for permits for greenhouse gas emissions in the first two years of the program, and only handful of previously unregulated sources — all large sources of carbon pollution — have required permits.

EPA’s rules are clearly working as they should – to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the biggest polluters.

We think that proves that the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision upholding the historic greenhouse gas rules are far from cert-worthy.

We hope the Supreme Court will agree, and decline to re-hear the case.

(You can read more about the greenhouse gas rules and find all the legal briefs, on our website)

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