Environment
1:53 pm
Mon June 6, 2011

Texas Challenges Federal Car and Truck Emission Rules

The Environmental Protection Agency’s rules limiting vehicle emissions are based upon a “legally flawed” conclusion that greenhouse gases are harmful to the public, the State of Texas argued in a brief filed today with the D.C. Court of Appeals on behalf of nine states and dozens of shipping and manufacturing companies.

The case centers around the so-called “Endangerment Finding”, a 2009 decision by the EPA that found six greenhouse gases “threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations. “

The Endangerment Finding has been used as the basis for EPA regulation of greenhouse gasses, like carbon dioxide and methane, a process that began being gradually rolled out in January. But as our political reporting partner, the Texas Tribune, points out, Texas has been fighting those regulations ferociously, and federal budget cuts have left the EPA with less money to implement the regulations.

The Endangerment Finding is the rationale behind the Tailpipe Rule, a program that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new cars, trucks, and some passenger vehicles, starting in 2012 model years. In the brief filed today, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott says the Tailpipe Rule is at the heart of “one of the most expansive and onerous regulatory programs ever promulgated in the United States.”

The State of Texas argues that EPA’s Endangerment Finding doesn’t specify at which concentrations greenhouses gasses would be harmful to humans. The Texas brief also claims the EPA ignored the cost to government and industry of implementing its greenhouse gas regulations, something that the agency is directed to consider under the Clean Air Act.

So can Texas and its allies suck the air out of the Endangerment Filing? It might prove to be an insurmountable legal challenge, according to a survey of experts by the Reuters news agency.

"EPA is the agency that has the scientists with the expertise," [Columbia University environmental law professor Michael Gerrard] continued. Before issuing the endangerment finding they "looked at it, relooked at it and re-relooked at it. They seriously examined critiques and still ended up in the same place."

 

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