EPA expects 4 more years of legal wrangling
WASHINGTON — Regardless of who takes the reins, the Environmental Protection Agency is likely to confront continued legal battles in President Obama's second term as it tries to finalize pollution rules for power plants, analysts said.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, who spearheaded the Obama administration's regulation of carbon emissions, said on Thursday that she will step down after almost four years.
Her tenure was marked by opposition from industry groups and Republican lawmakers to the EPA's first crackdown on carbon emissions, as well as other anti-pollution measures.
Analysts said whoever succeeds Jackson will probably face a spate of lawsuits to challenge rules that the EPA will finalize governing power plants, industrial sources and oil and gas production.
“This is shaping up to be four years of litigation,” said Christopher Guith, vice president for policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Energy Institute.
Given the partisan divide, Guith said, legislators would struggle to draft laws that could serve as alternatives to the EPA's pending suite of carbon and air regulation.
“As we look to an even more divided Congress, the action will be in the federal courts,” he said.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit, which hears most challenges to federal environmental rules, is likely to be busy as industry groups and states bring their cases against the EPA's rules after they are finalized.
The court sided with the agency in most of the recent challenges, most notably upholding its decision to use the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon dioxide emissions.
David Doniger, policy director of the National Resources Defense Council's Climate and Clean Air Program, said this could bolster the EPA as it tackles rules that may be more controversial than those rolled out under Jackson.
“The agency has a very good batting record on the clean air side. Carbon and climate (regulations) have come through completely unscathed,” Doniger said.
After the EPA was a political lightning rod during the first Obama administration, the president is likely to seek out a safe, possibly internal choice as Jackson's successor or to avoid the confirmation process altogether.
“There are just so many arrows pointed at this agency,” said Susan Tierney, managing principal and energy and environment specialist at the Boston-based Analysis Group.
Bob Perciasepe, deputy EPA administrator, will take over on an interim basis and could continue in that role indefinitely.
He previously worked at the EPA during the Clinton administration, specializing in water and air quality. Before rejoining the agency, Perciasepe was a top official at the National Audubon Society, a major conservation group.
Tierney said she expects the EPA to stay the course on its current agenda, especially as the agency faces some court-ordered deadlines to finalize rules, such as for coal ash, industrial waste from coal-fired plants and ozone standards.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- 7 shot at Florida spring-break house party
- Global warming is slowing down the circulation of the oceans — with potentially dire consequences
- Attorneys: Sterilizations were part of plea deal talks
- A bipartisan push on toxic chemicals makes some Democrats fume
- Run from Cuba, Americans cling to claims for seized property
- Christie rails against high N.J. estate tax
- American crash victims: U.S. government contractor, daughter
- Republican presidential hopefuls near-unanimity on the issue of their own guns
- Pentagon shielded Chilean torture, slaying suspect
- Starbucks drops ‘Race Together’ coffee cups
- 3 Illinois state workers seek to join Rauner lawsuit over union dues