TribLIVE

| USWorld

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

EPA's climate authority stands

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Daily Photo Galleries

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By The Washington Post
Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013, 8:24 p.m.
 

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court upheld the Environmental Protection Agency's ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions as a pollutant on Tuesday, even as it agreed to examine how the agency could demand greater pollution controls through the permitting process.

Groups, including the oil and chemical industry, had challenged several aspects of the EPA's regulatory authority, such as whether carbon dioxide constituted a pollutant under the Clean Air Act and whether the agency could limit greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles and power plants.

Both sides welcomed the Supreme Court's announcement, though climate activists had more reasons to celebrate.

“Today's orders by the U.S. Supreme Court make it abundantly clear, once and for all, that EPA has the legal authority and the responsibility to address climate change and the carbon pollution that causes it,” said Vickie Patton, general counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund.

However, Harry Ng, the American Petroleum Institute's vice president and general counsel, said the decision to take up half a dozen cases shows “the EPA is seeking to regulate U.S. manufacturing in a way that Congress never planned and never intended.”

“The Clean Air Act clearly only requires pre-construction permits for six specific emissions that impact national air quality — not greenhouse gases,” Ng said. “That kind of overreach can have enormous implications on U.S. competitiveness and the prices that consumers pay for fuel and manufactured goods. We're pleased that the court has agreed to review our petition — alongside several others — and we look forward to presenting our case.”

The question of how much the Supreme Court could scale back the federal government's ability to curb greenhouse gas emissions, now that it has taken up a narrow legal challenge, remains unclear.

Sean H. Donahue, the attorney representing several environmental groups that intervened in the case, said even in a worst-case scenario a ruling against his side would not have a major impact because EPA would retain the flexibility to require carbon controls from power plants emitting other criteria pollutants such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide.

“As a matter of emissions reductions, it's of quite limited import,” Donahue said.

But Stephen Brown, general counsel for the oil refiner Tesoro Corp., said it was “huge” that the justices were willing to review whether EPA has been making unreasonable demands of utilities seeking federal air permits for building facilities.

“That's exactly what the industry has been complaining about,” Brown said, adding the issue has cropped up because EPA “is trying to fit a political agenda into a statute that was not designed for it.”

One interesting wild card in the Supreme Court's upcoming decision: Justice Samuel A. Alito recused himself from the decision on whether to take up the challenge to EPA's climate authority. If he decides to recuse himself from a decision on the case, it could end in a tie, delivering a win for the agency.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Nation

  1. Piece of plant found on island on way to France for analysis
  2. Fetal parts in Planned Parenthood lab shown in 4th video
  3. Feds eye use of federal dollars for ads for for-profit colleges
  4. VA whistle-blowers aghast
  5. Highway bill on Obama’s desk extends funding 3 months
  6. Defense chief approves arming more troops at soft sites
  7. Geological gem The Wave on Arizona-Utah border draws worldwide visitors
  8. McClatchy: Emails on Clinton’s private server contain Benghazi information
  9. Minn. dentist laying low in slaying of lion
  10. Protesters ousted in bid to block Shell icebreaker on Portland river
  11. OSU band song mocked Holocaust victims