Due to increasingly onerous regulations, oil and gas industry associations have filed suit in federal court over the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) planned regulation of greenhouse gases from power plants and vehicles. The regulations come from a 2009 EPA finding that greenhouse gases pose a public health threat- the so-called “endangerment finding”.
Last year, a three judge panel at the District of Columbia’s Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the EPA regulations. That same court denied the energy industry Petitioners a rehearing in December, so the Petitioners recently asked the US Supreme Court to review the regulations at issue.
The Petitioners’ request explains that the regulations are hurting the economy, that there are clear legal issues that need to be adequately addressed, and that the need for review was particularly acute in light of two articulate dissenting opinions at the Court of Appeals, one by Judge Brett Kavanaugh and one by Judge Janice Rogers Brown.
The Petitioners include four oil and gas associations (the American Petroleum Institute, the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, the Independent Petroleum Association of America, and the Western States Petroleum Association), about 20 industry business associations and 12 energy producing states, led by Texas but also including Florida, North Dakota, South Dakota, Georgia, Alabama, Indiana, Louisiana, Nebraska, Michigan, South Carolina, and Oklahoma. The Petitioners also have the support of conservative political groups and about a dozen Republican members of the House, all adding their voices to the request that the Supreme Court hear this case.
The Petitioners’ request to the Supreme Court states that the Court of Appeals decision “… adopts an EPA interpretation of the Clean Air Act that the agency concedes produces ‘absurd’ consequences inconsistent with congressional intent, and … allows the agency to address those consequences by exercising effectively unrestricted discretion to rewrite-on an ongoing basis-separate, explicit statutory directives in order to revise the scope of the statute’s coverage.”
While the Petitioners attack the regulations on many grounds, they all agree with the premise that the Clean Air Act should not be used to regulate carbon emissions. The Petitioners claim that the EPA improperly used the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases from power plants, when that program specifically applies to only six other air pollutants. One of the business association Petitioners, the American Chemical Council (ACC), issued a statement that “EPA’s ill-founded regulations represent a sweeping expansion of its regulatory power under the Clean Air Act and would impose new requirements on potentially millions of stationary sources across the country.”
Those of us interested in overreaching EPA regulations and their impact on the oil and gas industry, particularly in Texas as one of the states most affected by the regulations, will have to wait and see if the Supreme Court decides to take the case or not.
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