Last year, the EPA issued a long awaited set of guidelines on regulating large, stationary sources of CO2. The rules, known as the "Endangerment Finding," used the authority granted to the agency through a Supreme Court ruling that found CO2 to be a pollutant that the EPA could regulate. While environmentalists, especially those skeptical of Congress' ability to regulate CO2, rejoiced, some industry groups protested, filing a lawsuit. Today, 16 states and New York City joined the lawsuit on behalf of the government.Coal and mining companies Massey Energy Co., National Beef Cattlemen's Association and Alpha Natural Resources Inc. are behind the lawsuit. Fighting them, citing the threat of climate change and the need for action, are Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
Most of these same states were part of the Massachusetts vs. EPA case that resulted in the EPA's new authority. The Court said that the Clean Air Act should extend to greenhouse gases, but Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Blanch Lincoln of Arkansas are pushing for an amendment to debt legislation that would take away EPA's rights to regulate.
Both Murkowski and Lincoln have been linked to oil and gas lobbyists who have donated generously to each Senator's political campaigns.
According to Greenwire, green groups want to intervene in the case.
The Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Defense Fund, Sierra Club and the National Wildlife Federation filed a motion last week to intervene. The New England-based Conservation Law Foundation filed a separate motion.
Joe Mendelson, global warming policy director for the National Wildlife Federation, called the industry groups' challenge a desperate attempt from big polluters to overthrow the science of climate change. "Given that the agency went through an exhaustive review of the science, given what we know about the peer-reviewed science, it seems to be a last-ditch effort by polluters who want to deny that we have a problem," he said.
If the EPA is stripped of its ability to regulate GHGs and Congress fails to act on limiting emissions, the US federal government will have almost no ability to regulate heavy emitters of CO2 and other greenhouse gases.