D.C. Circuit Dismisses Attacks on EPA’s Finding that Greenhouse Gases Endanger People’s Health and Well-Being

May 25, 2023
Sharyn Stein, 202-905-5718, sstein@edf.org

(Washington, D.C. – May 25, 2023) The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit today rejected attempts to undermine the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Gas Endangerment Finding, the basis for protections limiting the climate pollution that threatens people’s health and safety.

A three-judge panel on the D.C. Circuit dismissed lawsuits brought by the Concerned Household Electricity Consumers Council and the FAIR Energy Foundation for lack of standing. The cases were decided by judges Henderson, Katsas and Pan.

“Today’s ruling dismisses climate obstructionists’ lawsuits attacking EPA’s fundamental responsibility to protect people from climate pollution,” said Vickie Patton, General Counsel for EDF which was a party to the case. “EPA’s determination that climate pollution harms people’s health and well-being is solidly anchored in science and the law, which EPA and the courts have found numerous times in the face of repeated and flimsy attacks against it. We must keep working to protect all people from extreme weather and other pollution-fueled harms of the climate crisis, and we have no time to waste.”

EPA’s 2009 Endangerment Finding determined that six greenhouse gases that cause climate change are a threat to public health and safety, and thus by law must be regulated. The Endangerment Finding was unanimously upheld in a 2011 D.C. Circuit decision that observed it was supported by “an ocean of evidence.” The finding has since been relied on in numerous agency and court decisions, and the scientific foundation on which it was based has become even stronger.

In spite of that, the Concerned Household Electricity Consumers Council and the FAIR Energy Foundation unsuccessfully petitioned EPA to reconsider the Endangerment Finding. After EPA under both the Trump and Biden administrations rejected their petitions, the two groups filed lawsuits last year seeking to compel EPA to reverse the Endangerment Finding.

Environmental Defense Fund joined the American Lung Association, American Public Health Association, Appalachian Mountain Club, Clean Air Council, Clean Air Task Force, Clean Wisconsin, National Parks Conservation Association, and the Natural Resources Council of Maine to file a brief with the D.C. Circuit in support of the Endangerment Finding. A group of leading climate scientists also filed an amicus brief in support of the finding.

Today the D.C. Circuit noted that, “In the face of numerous challenges from states and industry groups, we [previously] upheld the Endangerment Finding and the EPA’s denials of various petitions for reconsideration of that Finding,” and noted that EPA denied the groups’ petitions after determining their evidence and arguments were “inadequate, erroneous, and deficient.”

The court then ruled:

“Petitioners fail to meet their burden to establish standing because they provide no evidence that they or any of their members have been injured by the Endangerment Finding … we dismiss the petitions for review for lack of jurisdiction.”

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