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Federal Appeals Court Upholds EPA Carbon Emissions Standards, Slams Greg Abbott


by: Adam Schwitters

Wed Jun 27, 2012 at 03:00 PM CDT


Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit unanimously upheld the EPA’s landmark pollution standards which were issued earlier this year and would limit the emission of greenhouse gasses by large industrial facilities, would establish fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emission standards for automobiles, and would find that greenhouse pollution endangers human health and well being.  The ruling followed the 2007 Supreme Court decision, Massachusetts v. EPA, which found that carbon emissions, and other greenhouse gasses, could be regulated under the Clean Air Act of 1990.  

The judges emphatically denied lawsuits brought by Texas’s Attorney General, Greg Abbott, and an industry group called the Coalition For Responsible Regulation (which does not have a website and has apparently strong ties to the Belgian chemical giant Solvay) stating:

We conclude, [that] 1) the Endangerment Finding and Tailpipe Rule are neither arbitrary nor capricious; 2) EPA's interpretation of the governing [Clean Air Act] provisions is unambiguously correct; and 3) no petitioner has standing to challenge the Timing and Tailoring Rules.

The judges expressed exasperation with the various lawsuits, saying “[t]his is how science works. EPA is not required to re-prove the existence of the atom every time it approaches a scientific question.”

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The reactions were to be expected.  Environmentalists lauded the decision, while Texas Republicans bashed it.

  • Fred Krupp, President of The Environmental Defense Fund said “Today's ruling by the court confirms that EPA’s common sense solutions to address climate pollution are firmly anchored in science and law.  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.”
  • Michael Gerrard, Director of the Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University, said the ruling was unexpected and a “complete slam dunk.”
  • Greg Abbott, who may be plotting a run for governor in 2014, said the court “failed to rein in the unelected bureaucrats at the (EPA) who are holding our country’s energy independence and fragile economy hostage to a radical environmental agenda.”
  • Retiring State Rep. Warren Chisum (who is in a Republican primary runoff for Railroad Commissioner with Christi Craddick) attempted to use the ruling as evidence his opponent cannot represent Texas industry saying “I’m calling on Christi Craddick to come out with a resume of accomplishments and show she has what it takes to stand up to the Obama Administration and the EPA (the Environmental Protection Agency).”
  • The Texas Public Policy Foundation (a radically conservative think tank) thinks the ruling is evidence that the EPA must be gutted.  “Congress now has a responsibility to reform the Clean Air Act to remove the deference most courts give to EPA’s technical judgment and to refine the definition of air pollution in the act.”

The notoriously liberal Amarillo Globe-News had this to say about the fervor with which Texas Republicans have been attacking the EPA.

The EPA was the creation of someone who served in the Nixon administration. Yep, that commie/socialist Richard Nixon signed the bill creating the EPA way back in 1970. Its aim from the beginning always has been to impose stricter air- and water-quality standards against industries that pollute the world where we live. The debate back then centered on whether the EPA would become ham-handed. Members of Congress and the president decided then that the EPA was a necessary agent assigned to protect our environment.

The debate today, though, casts the EPA as some sort of bogeyman, a job-killer, an industry-stifler, a roadblock to American progress.

But in the 42 years since the EPA’s creation, industry has continued to flourish. It has continued to create jobs … except, of course, during economic recessions caused by a whole host of issues not necessarily related to federal environmental protection standards.

President Nixon surely would laugh at his political descendants’ anger at the agency he created.



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