Court upholds historic EPA actions to reduce climate pollution, protect public health

June 26, 2012
Sharyn Stein, 202-572-3396,
Vickie Patton, 720-837-6239,

Today, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) clean air measures to protect Americans’ health and well-being from climate-disrupting pollution.

The court ruled in favor of clean air protections in four major cases, denying petitions against the Climate Pollution Endangerment Finding and the Clean Car Standards and dismissing petitions against the Timing and Tailoring Rules (see below for details on the cases).

In the ruling, the court says, “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.”

“Today’s ruling by the court confirms that EPA’s common sense solutions to address climate pollution are firmly anchored in science and law,” said Fred Krupp, President of Environmental Defense Fund. “This landmark decision will help secure a healthier and more prosperous future for all Americans. Today is a good day for climate progress in America and for the thin layer of atmosphere that sustains life on Earth.”

In February, the court heard arguments in a group of lawsuits challenging EPA’s authority to take steps to reduce climate pollution. The lawsuits were brought by major industrial polluters and states such as Texas.

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), together with a large coalition of states and environmental organizations, intervened in defense of the vital clean air protections. Those protections include:

  • The Climate Pollution Endangerment Finding, in which EPA – following the Supreme Court’s order in Massachusetts v. EPA – determined that climate pollution endangers human health and welfare on the basis of a rigorous review of the extensive body of climate science.
  • The Clean Car Standards, which establish cost-saving fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions standards for passenger cars and light trucks. The standards are supported by U.S. auto makers and the United Auto Workers union, among others. They will save Americans thousands of dollars at the gas pump by enabling families to get more mileage out of each gallon of gas. They will also help break our nation’s addiction to imported oil and will cut the amount of dangerous pollution from vehicles.
  • Carbon Pollution Limits for Big New Power Plants and Industrial Sources (the Timing and Tailoring Rules), in which EPA is phasing-in requirements for use of the best available cost-effective pollution controls, starting with new, large industrial emitters (like power plants) while shielding smaller emitters.

The U.S. auto makers and a dozen states (California, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington) intervened in defense of EPA’s clean car standards (the second case listed above).

“EPA’s reasonable steps to reduce climate pollution will benefit our environment, our economy, our health and our national security,” said EDF’s outside legal counsel Sean Donahue, who presented oral arguments to the court in defense of these protections. “Today’s court ruling will help our country move forward toward a clean energy future.”

The following three judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit decided the cases: Chief Judge David Sentelle and Circuit Judges Judith Rogers and David Tatel.

EDF has compiled detailed information about the cases. You can read more about the cases and the parties involved, find the court briefs, and get more information on our website.

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