UPDATE 2-US court upholds EPA's greenhouse gas rules

Tue Jun 26, 2012 11:47pm IST

* EPA rules on CO2 "neither arbitrary nor capricious"- court
    * Court ruling clears path for EPA rules on cars, power
plants
    * Industry warns greenhouse gas regulations will harm
economy


    By Ayesha Rascoe
    WASHINGTON, June 26 (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on
Tuesday upheld the first-ever U.S. proposed rules governing
heat-trapping greenhouse gases, clearing a path for sweeping
regulations affecting vehicles, coal-burning power plants and
other industrial facilities.
    Handing a setback to industry and a victory to the Obama
administration, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of
Columbia unanimously ruled the Environmental Protection Agency's
finding that carbon dioxide is a public danger and the decision
to set limits for emissions from cars and light trucks were
"neither arbitrary nor capricious."
    The ruling, which addresses four separate lawsuits, upholds
the underpinnings of the Obama administration's push to regulate
carbon dioxide emissions, and is a rebuke to a major push by
heavy industries including electric utilities, coal miners and
states like Texas to block the EPA's path. 
    In the 82-page ruling, the three-judge panel also found that
the EPA's interpretation of the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon
dioxide regulations is "unambiguously correct."
    The court also said it lacked jurisdiction to review the
timing and scope of greenhouse gas rules that affect stationary
sources like new coal-burning power plants and other large
industrial sources.
    EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said the court found the
agency "followed both the science and the law in taking
common-sense, reasonable actions to address the very real threat
of climate change by limiting greenhouse gas pollution from the
largest sources." 
    "EPA's massive and complicated regulatory barrage will
continue to punish job creators and further undermine our
economy," countered Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, a Republican
and long-time critic of the EPA's climate change regulations. 
    Though states like Texas said the EPA's rules were a
"subjective conviction" because they did not set hard and fast
thresholds for unsafe climate change, "EPA is not required to
re-prove the existence of the atom every time it approaches a
scientific question," the court wrote.    
    The ruling clears the way for the EPA to proceed with
first-ever rules limiting carbon dioxide emissions from newly
built power plants, and to move forward with new vehicle
emission standards this summer.
    "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, a senior attorney at the Natural Resources
Defense Council, an environmental group. 
    The court in February heard arguments brought by state and
industry challenging the EPA's authority to set carbon dioxide
limits. 
    Industry groups said the EPA's regulations will impose
burdensome regulations that will spur job cuts.
    "The EPA's decision to move forward with these regulations
is one of the most costly, complex and burdensome regulations
facing manufacturers," said Jay Timmons, president of the
National Association of Manufacturers. "These regulations will
harm their ability to hire, invest and grow." 
    The EPA's rules could affect 6 million stationary sources
including 200,000 manufacturing facilities and 37,000 farms,
Timmons said in a statement.
    The Supreme Court unleashed a fury of regulation and
litigation when it ruled in Massachusetts vs. EPA in 2007 that
greenhouse gases are an air pollutant that can be regulated
under the Clean Air Act. 
    The EPA in 2009 issued an "endangerment finding" that
greenhouse gases "reasonably may be anticipated to endanger
public health." The agency followed with the "tailpipe rule" in
May 2010 setting limits on greenhouse gas emissions from cars
and light trucks. 
    The agency is also preparing to issue first-ever standards
for carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants, which are
likely to spur utilities to opt for cleaner natural-gas burning
plants instead.
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