By BRENT KENDALL and TENNILLE TRACY
WASHINGTON -- A federal appeals court on Tuesday backed the
Environmental Protection Agency's
first rules limiting carbon-dioxide emissions, a major victory
for the Obama administration.
The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
Circuit, in an 82-page ruling, unanimously upheld the EPA's
central finding that greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide endanger public
health and welfare.
The court also upheld subsequent EPA rules that imposed
greenhouse-gas-emissions standards on cars beginning with the
2012 model year.
In another major portion of the ruling, the appeals court
rejected industry-backed challenges to the agency's initial
greenhouse-gas permitting requirements for power plants and
other stationary sources of pollution.
The EPA regulations followed a landmark Supreme Court ruling
in 2007 that authorized the agency to regulate greenhouse-gas
emissions under the Clean Air
Tuesday's opinion, issued jointly by three judges who
considered the case, said the EPA's findings about the dangers
of greenhouse gases were consistent with the Supreme Court
ruling and the Clean Air Act.
The court said the EPA marshaled a "substantial" body of
evidence to support its findings, and it rejected arguments
that there was too much uncertainty about global warming for
the agency to take the actions it did.
"The existence of some uncertainty does not, without more,
warrant invalidation of an endangerment finding," the court
Chief Judge David Sentelle, a Reagan appointee, and Judges
Judith Rogers and David Tatel, both Clinton appointees, issued
The ruling is likely to echo in this year's elections, where
Republicans including presidential candidate Mitt Romney are
charging the Obama administration with stifling job growth
through tighter environmental rules.
The decision was a blow to an array of industry groups,
including those representing chemical, energy, farming and
mining interests, that brought several challenges to the EPA's
The challengers had argued the regulations were burdensome,
costly and not grounded in hard data.
Groups on both sides were quick to respond.
"The court upheld the agency's careful determination, based
on a mountain of scientific evidence, that carbon dioxide and other
heat-trapping pollutants threaten our health and our planet,"
said David Doniger of the Natural Resources Defense
"We're still reviewing the decision but obviously we're
disappointed. It is likely to impose significant costs on the
economy and confer few benefits - an outcome consistent for the
regulations from this EPA," said National Mining Association
spokesman Luke Popovich.
The association represents coal-mining companies.
The EPA said in its findings that greenhouse gases likely
were responsible for global warming over the last half-century.
That finding was the basis for the agency's new auto-emissions
standards and industrial permitting rules.
The EPA didn't immediately respond to a request for
Tuesday's ruling comes as the EPA works to finalize its
first set of national limits on carbon dioxide from new coal-fired
The new standards, first proposed in March, are expected to
make the construction of new coal plants
increasingly unlikely as power generators opt for natural gas
as a generation source.
Dow Jones Newswires