Highlights from today's U.S. court of appeals decision affirming historic climate protections

June 26, 2012
Contact: 
Vickie Patton, 720-837-6239, vpatton@edf.org
Sharyn Stein, 202-572-3396, sstein@edf.org

Today, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in favor of clean air protections in four major cases involving climate pollution.

The court upheld the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) science-based finding that greenhouse gas emissions endanger public health and welfare (the Endangerment Finding) and the Clean Car Standards that will save families money at the gas pump, reduce American dependence on imported oil, and cut dangerous climate pollution.

The court also dismissed petitions challenging the requirement for large industrial sources to install modern cost-effective solutions to address greenhouse gases, and EPA's common sense approach to shield small sources from liability (the Timing and Tailoring Rules).

"The court’s decision is unanimous, thorough, strong, and emphatic in affirming EPA’s historic clean air standards addressing climate pollution in America," said Vickie Patton, General Counsel for Environmental Defense Fund.

We realize not everyone wants to read the entire 82 page decision (although you can read the PDF here). So here are our choices for some of the best and most pertinent quotes from the court:

Summary of the Decision

But for the reasons set forth below, we conclude: 1) the Endangerment Finding and Tailpipe Rule are neither arbitrary nor capricious; 2) EPA’s interpretation of the governing CAA provisions is unambiguously correct; and 3) no petitioner has standing to challenge the Timing and Tailoring Rules. We thus dismiss for lack of jurisdiction all petitions for review of the Timing and Tailoring Rules, and deny the remainder of the petitions. (Page 16)

Re: The Climate Pollution Endangerment Finding

EPA properly relied on comprehensive scientific assessments by authorities such as the National Academies of Science and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change:

This is how science works. EPA is not required to re-prove the existence of the atom every time it approaches a scientific question.(Page 27)
The record also supports EPA’s conclusion that climate change endangers human welfare by creating risk to food production and agriculture, forestry, energy, infrastructure, ecosystems, and wildlife. Substantial evidence further supported EPA’s conclusion that the warming resulting from the greenhouse gas emissions could be expected to create risks to water resources and in general to coastal areas as a result of expected increase in sea level. (Page 30)

Re: The Clean Car Standards

Furthermore, the Tailpipe Rule provides benefits above and beyond those resulting from NHTSA’s fuel economy standards. (Page 42)

Re: Carbon Pollution Limits for Big New Power Plants and Industrial Sources (the Timing and Tailoring Rules)

Congress made perfectly clear that the PSD program was meant to protect against precisely the types of harms caused by greenhouse gases. (Page 58)
Given this, neither the Timing nor Tailoring Rules caused the injury Petitioners allege: having to comply with PSD and Title V for greenhouse gases… Indeed, the Timing and Tailoring Rules actually mitigate Petitioners’ purported injuries. (Page 77)

# # #

Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org), a leading national nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships. Connect with us on Twitter and Facebook.