States Seek Court Ruling to Defend Industry Challenge to EPA Endangerment Finding

Sixteen states and New York City have filed a motion in federal court requesting permission to challenge an industry-sponsored “Petition for Review” filed last month in Federal Appeals Court after EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson signed an Endangerment Finding on December 7th stating that greenhouse gas emissions pose a threat to human health and welfare.

The industry groups challenging the EPA finding, which include coal giant Massey Energy and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, have yet to specify their concerns, but Patrick Day, and attorney with Holland & Hart LLP, the law firm representing the companies involved in the motion, say they intend on challenging the scientific foundation of the EPA finding.

We’re certainly going to challenge the adequacy of the administrator’s ruling on the science, and we think there are probably procedural issues with the science, as well,” Day said.

The endangerment finding sets the stage for future EPA regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. Such regulation is also drawing fire from Congress, most notably from Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski (as has been widely reported of late.)

The states filing the motion last Friday support limits on greenhouse gas emissions, and they are asking the federal court to grant the states formal “intervenor status” in the case on the side of the EPA.

Along with the coalition of states and NYC, several environmental groups are also seeking to intervene, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Defense Fund, Sierra Club and the National Wildlife Federation.

Given that the agency went through an exhaustive review of the science, given what we know about the peer-reviewed science, it seems to be a last-ditch effort by polluters who want to deny that we have a problem,” said Global Joe Mendelson, global warming policy director for the National Wildlife Federation, adding that the industry challenge to the EPA endangerment finding was a desperate attempt from big polluters to overthrow the science of climate change.

The states involved in the filing last Friday are mostly those that successfully argued Massachusetts v. EPA before the supreme court in 2007, a landmark case that found the EPA has authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act.

The motion just filed argues that the states have the right to intervene in the EPA case because that are directly effected by the industry challenge to the agency’s endangerment finding. Those effects include rising sea levels in Massachusetts, threatened hardwood forests (that in turn impacting tourism), and higher temperature exacerbating ozone pollution and leading to increased respiratory problems.

Along with New York City, the petitioner states include California, Massachusetts, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, New Mexico, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Washington, Vermont, and Rhode Island.

Sources and further reading:
The Hill
Greenwire (sub. required)
UnEarthed (Earth Justice)

States’ Petition in Federal Court (pdf)

Thomas Schueneman
Thomas Schueneman
Tom is the founder and managing editor of and the PlanetWatch Group. His work appears in Triple Pundit, Slate, Cleantechnia, Planetsave, Earth911, and several other sustainability-focused publications. Tom is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists.

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