EPA's Historic Climate Protections Stand in the Face of Numerous Appeals

October 15, 2013


Vickie Patton, 720-837-6239, vpatton@edf.org
Sharyn Stein, 202-572-3396, sstein@edf.org

“Today’s orders by the U.S. Supreme Court make it abundantly clear, once and for all, that EPA has the both legal authority and the responsibility to address climate change and the carbon pollution that causes it.

“EPA’s vital actions to protect our communities and our families from the clear and present danger of climate pollution are firmly anchored in science and law. Today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to deny numerous further legal challenges to EPA’s science based determination that six greenhouse gases threaten our nation’s health and well-being is a historic victory for all Americans that are afflicted by the ravages of extreme weather. The Justices have also declined to hear legal challenges to the broadly supported clean car standards that will strengthen our nation’s energy security, cut carbon pollution, and save families money at the gas pump. Those decisions make it abundantly clear, once and for all, that EPA has the both legal authority and the responsibility to address climate change and the carbon pollution that causes it. Our nation must now work together — Republicans, Independents and Democrats – to address the dangerous carbon pollution from fossil fueled power plants, the single largest source of emissions in our country.   

“Today the Supreme Court granted review of one narrow question regarding whether certain Clean Air Act permitting requirements have been triggered for large stationary sources: ‘whether EPA permissibly determined that its regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from new motor vehicles triggered permitting requirements under the Clean Air Act for stationary sources that emit greenhouse gases.’

“We look forward to presenting our case to the high Court to show that EPA’s long-standing permitting requirement that the nation’s largest industrial emitters do their fair share in cutting carbon pollution by deploying cost effective technologies when they are constructing or rebuilding is manifestly anchored in law and science.

“We have detailed information on our website about these climate protections and the protracted litigation by industrial polluters and states such as Texas to obstruct clean air progress and a strong clean energy economy for our nation.”


In litigation spanning nearly four years, large industrial polluters and states such as Texas have obstructed EPA’s historic climate protections for our nation including the following:

Endangerment Finding — EPA’s determination that six greenhouse gases endanger the public health and welfare of current and future generations.  EPA based this finding on more than 100 published scientific studies and peer-reviewed syntheses of climate change research by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program/U.S. Global Change Research Program, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the National Research Council of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

That Endangerment Finding followed the Supreme Court’s landmark 2007 decision in Massachusetts v. EPA.  In that decision, the Court held that greenhouse gases are air pollutants under the Clean Air Act.  The Court then instructed EPA to determine — on the basis of science — whether these gases endanger human health and welfare.

Clean Car Standards — EPA and the Department of Transportation (DOT) have established landmark fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions standards for passenger cars and light trucks.  These standards are supported by U.S. auto makers, the United Auto Workers, and a dozen states – among others – because they provide significant environmental, economic, and energy security benefits.

The clean car standards will:

  • Reduce greenhouse gas pollution by 960 million tons
  • Reduce reliance on foreign oil by 1.8 billion barrels over the life of the vehicles
  • Save consumers an estimated $3,000 at the gas pump over the life of the vehicles

Application of Climate Pollution Protections to Largest Emitters — EPA’s requirement that new large, industrial emitters deploy the best available cost-effective strategies to reduce harmful climate pollution. EPA has phased in this requirement, focusing on the largest industrial sources of climate pollution while shielding small sources. Requiring the best available cost-effective pollution controls for new sources harmonizes clean air measures with major capital investments in new business operations. 

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