DC District Court of Appeals rejects bid to stay EPA GHG regulations

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On Friday, December 10, the DC District Court of Appeals rejected a bid by business groups, right-wing legal organizations, and the state of Texas to delay EPA greenhouse gas rules until legal challenges against the regulation are resolved.  EPA regulation will now be allowed to take effect on January 2, 2011.  However, these lawsuits have always been a sideshow to corporate lobbying efforts to hamstring EPA, with the real threat now taking shape in the possibility of Congressional action to block or de-fund EPA’s regulation.

[UPDATE:

Washington Post, December 24:  EPA vows to enforce curbs on emissions

New York Times, December 23:  E.P.A. Says It Will Press on With Greenhouse Gas Regulation

David Doniger, Natural Resources Defense Council, December 23:  Clean air standards coming for americas biggest carbon polluters]

Petitioners cited irreparable harm from economic damages in their motion to stay, but even if economic loss can be proven, it cannot on its own be considered irreparable harm.  The court ruled that “petitioners have not shown that the harms they allege are ‘certain,’ rather than speculative, or that the ‘alleged harm[s] will directly result from the action[s] which the movant[s] seeks to enjoin.”

In June, Lisa Murkowski’s (R-Alaska) resolution to block EPA regulation of greenhouse gases went down in the Senate, 47 to 53, with six Democrats voting for it.  Politico reported that in the upcoming 112th Congress, at least 56 Senators are likely to support a similar measure.  Swing-state Democrats up for reelection in 2012 could make the difference, and may be especially susceptible to arguments that regulation would increase economic pain. The Obama administration would very likely veto such a stand-alone resolution, but the situation may be more complicated if it is included in a larger bill.  Politico quotes an unidentified environmental advocate: “if it’s part of a bigger piece of legislation where the president doesn’t have to wuss out in such grand explicitness, I think they’d let it go.” EPA preemption was previously used as a bargaining chip in the Kerry-Lieberman American Power Act in an effort to bring bipartisan support on board.

Congress could also use the appropriations process to block funding for implementation of EPA rulemaking.  Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Kentucky), the incoming chair of the House Appropriations committee, said he “would be open to use riders on appropriations bills to block EPA’s climate change regulations next year,” according to ClimateWire (by subscription).

Although the ruling is excellent news in that it allows EPA to move forward with regulation as planned, this is only the opening round in a protracted battle that will ultimately play out in Congress.

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One Response to DC District Court of Appeals rejects bid to stay EPA GHG regulations

  1. Anne says:

    Well, Sen. James Inhofe is on a personal crusade to make sure EPA doesn't have a hand in the regulation of CO2 as a pollutant, as the Supreme Court ruled it should. This article shows how hell-bent he is -- http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/677-e2-wire/134319-inhofe-bashes-rockefellers-claim-that-gop-abandoned-block-epa-effort. He also seems to have a following -- primarily ideologues on the far right wing who are convinced that a lower carbon economy is "jobs killing." But what's missing is the acknowledgment that a high-carbon economy is "people-killing." An effective ad campaign might point out that pro-fossil, anti-regulation interests are killing babies in the name of saving jobs. Of course the jobs they are "saving" are those of oil drillers and those who blow up mountains in West Virginia to get at the coal, and squelching jobs for solar rooftop installers and wind developers. Renewable energy creates more jobs than fossil fuel extraction - moreover, they are better, safer, more rewarding jobs. But those who have drunk the fossil fuel kool-aid won't let the facts get in the way of their ideological fervor to keep "biz as usual" -- come hell or high water (i.e., climate change impacts galore). So -- the courts have held back the frenzied attack, this time, but, the attacks will keep coming. President Obama needs to step up to the plate here and call on the anti-EPA crowd to put a sock in it.

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