A series of rules and findings issued by the EPA are heralding the slow but steady arrival of economy-wide regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. Following the 2007 Supreme Court ruling in Massachusetts v. EPA, the agency has been compelled by scientific findings to protect the public health and welfare from global warming pollution under the Clean Air Act.
Big industries opposed to EPA action, charge that the application of existing law is an unjustified power grab, but last week their position met a signal defeat. A move by like-minded allies in the Senate to block the EPA by Congressional mandate failed. It was a closely watched vote. In the end, Senator Murkowski's resolution that would have curtailed the agency's action on greenhouse gases went down to defeat 47-53.
Now industry must look to a flurry of weak legal challenges to slow or stop a first wave of regulations on industrial sources of pollution that are slated to take effect in January 2011, a little more than six months away. They've filed challenging the EPA’s authority from several angles.
Earlier this month, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), led by former three-term Michigan Republican Governor John Engler, along with 19 other lobbying organizations, filed a petition in federal appeals court challenging the EPA’s of the “Johnson Memo.”
Written by Bush's EPA chief, the memo details when the EPA must regulate greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources. The petitioners include the American Petroleum Institute, National Petrochemical and Refiners Association and the Western States Petroleum Association. A similar petition was filed in April by a coalition that includes the Industrial Minerals Association, Rosebud Mining Corporation and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
In a press release, NAM called the EPA regulation of greenhouse gas emissions “an overreach” and “power grab” by the agency. NAM is also a petitioner in a suit filed in February challenging the EPA’s endangerment finding on greenhouse gas emissions. Jeff Ostermayer, a NAM spokesperson, says that the organizations position is that “any changes to the Clean Air Act need to happen through Congress, not the EPA.”
Ostermayer would not comment on whether the organization would support Congressional climate legislation instead. I has opposed it up until this point. In 2009, Duke Energy publicly split from NAM over its position on climate issues. At the time, Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers blamed the organizations refusal to address climate change for the rift.
A separate petition has been filed by the Southeastern Legal Foundation (SLF) along with a number of , challenging the endangerment finding. Calling the science on climate change “unsettled”, they are partnering with industry supported think tanks including the Cato Institute and Heritage Foundation.
In March, SLF filed a stay on the endangerment finding in the hopes of halting the forward progress of the EPA’s implementation of greenhouse gas standards for light-duty vehicles and pending regulation for stationary sources. SLF, founded by former Heritage Foundation chair Ben Blackburn, is a self-described “conservative public interest law firm.”