D.C. Circuit Hears Arguments in EPA Lawsuits

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on March 07, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Does the Environmental Protection Agency have the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions? The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit will decide later this year, as it sits poised to hear oral arguments this week from four major lawsuits challenging the authority of the EPA.

These lawsuits are brought by four industry groups. In 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the EPA had the authority to regulate greenhouse gases by virtue of the Clean Air Act. Of course, this was with the caveat that it could only do so if the gases posed a risk to human health.

If the EPA is trying to regulate the emission of carbon dioxide for the betterment of the environment, then why is this such an issue?

According to a report by the World Resources Institute, the EPA’s rules could affect seventy five percent of the nation’s greenhouse-gas sources. This would affect industries ranging from the automobile industry, to the energy industry.

The plaintiffs in the EPA lawsuits are making several allegations in their attempt to have the EPA’s rules thrown out. The first of these allegations is that the EPA’s findings that greenhouse gases pose a health risk to current and future generations were erroneous, from a scientific point of view, as well as from a quantitative point of view.

Another allegation put forth by opponents is that the EPA’s interpretation of the Clean Air Act and subsequent implementation of rules on vehicles would also have an effect on stationary sources as well.

Finally, an argument made by plaintiffs attacks the EPA’s “tailoring rule,” which would ensure that the EPA’s permitting program apply only to the country’s largest polluters. Plaintiffs say that this rule is an improper revision to the Clean Air Act.

As arguments are heard this week in the D.C. Circuit, come back for updates on the suits.

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