August 22, 2013
On 26 July 2013 a federal appeals court sided with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in its ongoing dispute with Texas and Wyoming over reducing greenhouse gas emissions according to a report from the Austin American Statesman. The decision amounts to a defense of the federal Clean Air Act, which has faced repeated challenges from Texas, the nation’s leader in greenhouse gas emissions. Click here to read the court’s opinion.
In a 2-1 vote, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington ruled that the states – along with various industry groups – did not have standing to sue because they could not show that they had suffered an injury or that a ruling throwing out the EPA plan would benefit them. Federal environmental regulators have required states to include greenhouse gases when issuing pollution permits since 2011. Texas didn’t want to comply, and the EPA took over its permitting program.
The case began when state officials sued the EPA to prevent it from taking control of the state’s regulation of carbon emissions. The EPA has said that greenhouse gases are a threat to public health, and a large majority of scientists have linked them to global warming. But Texas officials have remained skeptical and said curbing greenhouse gases could cost state businesses and homeowners and could jeopardize jobs.
Bryan Shaw, Chairman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) said, “The EPA has effectively re-written the Clean Air Act to impose its new standards, imposed severely restrictive time lines on the states to implement its new requirements, and then twisted the Act to immediately impose its agenda on Texas.”
Cyrus Reed, conservation director with the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club, said the ruling will lead to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and carbon output. “Carbon pollution protections are the law, even in Texas,” Reed said in a statement.
What this means to you
In 2007, in Massachusetts v. EPA, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that greenhouse gases (GHGs) are pollutants under the Clean Air Act and the U.S. EPA must determine whether they endanger public health. EPA’s endangerment finding determined that six GHGs must be regulated. While legal challenges continue, EPA’s GHG regulatory authority remains intact.