A US federal court of appeals on Tuesday upheld the right of environmental regulators to curb harmful carbon emissions via clean car standards and limit industrial pollution from new power plants.
The court rejected a series of lawsuits that had been filed against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by the Coalition for Responsible Regulation, which included coal, oil and steel interests.
President Barack Obama’s Republican foes have opposed efforts by the government to impose new regulations to control greenhouse emissions, saying it would hamper business as the economy recovers from the worst economic crisis in decades.
However, the court denied those legal challenges and upheld the EPA’s “Endangerment Finding,” which determined that greenhouse gases may “reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.”
The three-judge panel also upheld the Obama administration’s first set of clean car and fuel economy standards, allowing the EPA to finalize clean car standards that would cut new car pollution in half and double fuel efficiency by 2025.
Environmental groups hailed the unanimous ruling by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia as a victory for science.
“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, senior attorney for the Climate and Clean Air Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
“These rulings clear the way for EPA to keep moving forward under the Clean Air Act to limit carbon pollution from motor vehicles, new power plants, and other big industrial sources,” he said.
The Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that carbon emissions are pollutants under the federal Clean Air Act, making it possible for the EPA to regulate them.
The US government has issued guidelines to help industries comply with greenhouse gas emission cuts as the nation takes steps to stem global warming.