By Mike Verespej, Plastics News Staff
Washington -- Four separate lawsuits have been filed in federal court challenging the endangerment finding of the Environmental Protection Agency, which would give the agency the right to regulate greenhouse gases on stationary sources, such as manufacturing plants and power plants.
How Congress or the EPA ultimately decides to regulate greenhouse gases could affect the price and availability of both feedstocks and fuel for chemical and plastic companies.
The lawsuits were filed 16 Feb at the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The state of Texas and a coalition that includes 17 associations and businesses - including the National Association of Manufacturers - and 12 Republican congressmen asked for a court review of the ruling.
The lawsuits came four days after the US Chamber of Commerce petitioned EPA to review its endangerment finding.
In addition, several conservative think tanks, led by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, filed a petition with EPA to reconsider its action, as well as a lawsuit 16 Feb with the appeals court.
"If EPA moves forward and begins regulating stationary sources, it will open the door for them to regulate everything from industrial facilities to farms to even American homes," said NAM President John Engler, in a statement. "Such a move would further complicate a permitting process while increasing costs to the manufacturing sector. These costly burdens and uncertainty will stifle job creation and harm our competiveness in a global economy."
Regulations stemming from EPA's endangerment finding will trigger new permitting requirements on more than 6 million stationary sources, including 200,000 manufacturing facilities.
In filing its lawsuit, Texas Gov. Rick Perry said his state "is aggressively seeking its future in alternative energy through incentives and innovation, not mandates and overreaching regulation. The EPA's misguided plan paints a big target on the backs of Texas agriculture and energy producers and the hundreds of thousands of Texans they employ."
Texas also filed a petition with EPA for reconsideration.
The Chamber's petition challenges the process EPA used to determine that greenhouse gases endanger human health, making them subject to regulations under the Clean Air Act.
"Our challenge focuses on the inadequacies of the process that EPA following in triggering the Clean Air Act regulation and not on scientific issues related to climate change," said Steven Law, chief legal officer and general counsel of the Chamber in a statement.
The chamber said it supports Congressional action to reduce greenhouse gases. "The US Chamber strongly supports efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere. But we believe there is a right way and a wrong way to achieve that goal," Law said.
Legislation to cap carbon dioxide emissions passed the House of Representatives last year, but stalled in the Senate.
The lawsuits will likely lead to a delay in EPA moving forward on its plans to regulation carbon dioxide emissions from stationary sources by the end of March.
In its endangerment finding on 7 Dec, EPA said six greenhouse gases threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations, and concluded that the Clean Air Act gives it the authority to regulate any facility that emits more than 25 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.
US Senator Lisa Murkowski, (Republican-Alaska, the ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has introduced legislation that would force EPA to withdraw its action.
EPA's endangerment finding gives the agency the authority to regulate emissions from 6 million workplaces whenever they undergo an expansion and requires them to use the best available technology for controlling emissions.