A federal appeals court in Washington unanimously rejected several states’ challenges against the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation of greenhouse gases, according to Texas Climate News:
Texas, along with Virginia, was a leader of a 14-state group with litigation challenging the rules. Gov. Rick Perry and Attorney General Greg Abbott, both Republicans, have been strongly outspoken in their criticism of the EPA’s climate-protection actions, saying they would badly damage the state’s economy.
However, the US District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, in a ruling by a chief judge appointed by Republican Ronald Reagan and two judges appointed by Democrat Bill Clinton, declared the EPA’s “endangerment finding” that greenhouse gases threaten human health and the environment and its subsequent regulations to limit emissions of those gases from vehicles “are neither arbitrary nor capricious,” as the challengers claimed.
The judges likewise ruled that the EPA’s challenged interpretation of the Clean Air Act – that the law authorizes the agency’s current regulation of greenhouse gases – “is unambiguously correct,” and also that none of the petitioners had standing to challenge associated EPA rules that focus its regulatory effort on major greenhouse-gas sources.
A central element of Texas’ own attack on the EPA’s climate initiatives was the allegation, echoing climate-change skeptics, that the agency had, in Abbot’s words, “outsourced the scientific basis for its greenhouse gas regulation” to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The work of that United Nations-sponsored body involves participation of hundreds of scientists from the U.S. and other countries.
The judges’ ruling on such claims that the EPA had thus “delegated” its scientific review to others was withering, calling it “little more than a semantic trick” and oblivious to “how science works.”
The Associated Press reported that Texas officials may appeal the appellate ruling to the Supreme Court. The AP quoted Abbott as saying that the Reagan and Clinton appointees on the appeals court had “failed to rein in the unelected bureaucrats at the agency who are holding our country’s energy independence and fragile economy hostage to a radical environmental agenda.”
The Texas office of the Environmental Defense Fund, an advocacy group that joined 15 states and other organizations in intervening in support of the EPA, posted a statement on its Texas Clean Air Matters Blog that asserted the court had “thoroughly rebuked” Texas and others “who attack science and obstruct progress in reducing climate pollution”
Dallas Morning News reporter Randy Lee Loftis, writing on that newspaper’s “The Scoop Blog,” noted that while the court had “rejected every challenge to the rules,” Texas and other petitioners “will probably take the case to the Supreme Court,” which had ruled that the EPA has the authority to issue greenhouse-gas regulations in 2007.
Loftis identified “the big questions” involved in the litigation and summed up its current status this way:
Is global warming science real and does the Clean Air Act govern emissions of greenhouse gases?
For now, the courts’ answer is an unqualified yes.