August 16, 2012
Congress Missing in Action as Courts Back Clean Air Act Curbs on Emissions
By R. Morgan Gilhuly and Christopher Jensen
Federal rules to limit greenhouse gas emissions are likely here to stay. That, the authors of this article say, is the unambiguous message of the June 26 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upholding Environmental Protection Agency regulations under the Clean Air Act to control greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles, utilities, and industrial sources. EPA’s greenhouse gas limits will be applied under a law last revised in 1990, and which was not designed to address climate change. That could be extremely onerous for new coal- and oil-fired power plants, which could be subject to new rules as early as next year. There is little hope Congress can overcome gridlock either to block the regulations or to enact a more flexible regulatory regime. It appears far more likely that EPA will continue its judicially mandated attempts to use the Clean Air Act to address the climate crisis.
R. Morgan Gilhuly is the managing partner and Christopher D. Jensen is an associate at Barg Coffin Lewis & Trapp, LLP-a San Francisco-based law firm providing expertise in environmental law and litigation. They can be reached at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org, respectively, or via the firm’s website at http://www.bcltlaw.com.This article does not represent the opinions of Bloomberg BNA, which welcomes other points of view.