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U.S. Chamber Sues EPA Over Greenhouse Gas ‘Endangerment’ Decision

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the advocacy group Coalition for Responsible Regulation have asked a federal appeals court to review U.S. EPA’s decision that greenhouse gases endanger human health and welfare.

The endangerment finding, finalized in December, is the linchpin of the agency’s suite of climate regulations. It prompted regulations on greenhouse gases from cars and light-duty trucks, which themselves triggered the rules for stationary sources such as power plants, refineries and factories.

The U.S. Chamber and Coalition for Responsible Regulation have challenged EPA at each step of the process. Robin Conrad, executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber’s National Chamber Litigation Center, said her group’s lawsuit will not question the science behind the endangerment finding but rather the suitability of using the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases.

“The EPA itself has admitted that regulating climate change under the Clean Air Act would create an ‘absurd’ result,” Conrad said in a statement Friday. “Unfortunately, the agency has refused to reconsider its flawed decision.”

Both groups filed their petitions for review with the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Friday. The lawsuits were filed hours after EPA formally published in the Federal Register its decision (pdf) not to reconsider the endangerment finding.

The two groups were also among the dozens of states, businesses and trade associations that asked the agency to rethink its decision. In some of the 10 challenges, petitioners said the scientific basis of the agency’s decision was brought into question by the “Climategate” controversy, in which hackers released e-mails from climate scientists that hinted at attempts to hide problematic data, and the discovery of a pair of mistakes in the most recent report by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

EPA announced late last month that it would reject those petitions. At the time, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said the claims “assert a conspiracy” that runs counter to the conclusions of most prominent scientific organizations (E&ENews PM, July 29).

“The endangerment finding is based on years of science from the U.S. and around the world,” Jackson said. “These petitions — based as they are on selectively edited, out-of-context data and a manufactured controversy — provide no evidence to undermine our determination.”

While the lawsuits filed Friday directly challenge EPA’s endangerment finding, groups could also choose to challenge the agency’s decision not to reconsider its decision. The petitioners, including the U.S. Chamber, asked the court to give them until Sept. 15 to decide how they intend to proceed.

The New York Times, 16 August 2010