The Environmental Protection Agency has rejected 10 separate petitions from numerous groups and states asking it to withdraw its endangerment finding that greenhouse gases are a threat to public health.
The EPA ruling, published July 29 in a 217-page document, does not affect any of the federal lawsuits still pending that seek to accomplish the same purpose. The endangerment finding, made in December, allows EPA to begin regulating greenhouse gases as harmful air pollutants, and paves the way for EPA to regulate emissions from 6 million stationary sources in the U.S., including 200,000 manufacturing plants.
Both the chemical and plastics industries are concerned that such rules could lead utilities to switch to natural gas which serves as both a feedstock and fuel for the chemical and plastic industries and lead to higher natural gas prices.
The EPA said the petitioners which included the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 14 states and numerous business groups did not prove that the underlying science supporting the endangerment finding is flawed, and labeled the arguments and evidence from the petitioners inadequate [and] generally unscientific.
By contrast, EPA said its own evidence was robust, voluminous and compelling.
The endangerment finding is based on years of science from the U.S. and around the world, said EPA administrator Lisa Jackson. These petitions based as they are on selectively edited, out-of-context data and a manufactured controversy provide no evidence to undermine our determination. Excess greenhouse gases are a threat to our health and welfare.
However, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II said, The reviewing court is likely to find the decisions fatally flawed, procedurally, because the agency has reviewed and weighed new information without notice or comment from the public.
The Chamber of Commerce said it will appeal EPA's ruling.
We are deeply disappointed with the EPA's failure to reconsider its flawed decision to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, said Robin Conrad, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce's National Chamber Litigation Center. We intend to appeal the ruling.
She said, We continue to call for Congress to work through the legislative process, rather than having EPA misapply environmental statutes like the Clean Air Act, which was not created to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions.
EPA still faces a quartet of lawsuits filed in mid-February in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia by groups that include the chamber, the state of Texas, the National Association of Manufacturers, several conservative think tanks, industry and business associations and Republican congressmen. The lawsuits question the authority of EPA to regulate greenhouse gases from stationary sources.
EPA has said that regulations and permits for greenhouse-gas emissions from new construction or from modification of existing facilities will not go into effect until 2011, and that for the first six months of 2011, only facilities that already must apply for Clean Air Act permits as a result of their non-greenhouse-gas emissions will need to address greenhouse-gas emissions in their permit applications.