Today, the Supreme Court granted certiorari to six petitions brought by state and industry groups challenging the EPA’s greenhouse gas emissions regulations for stationary sources. The petitions are seen by many as a sequel to Massachusetts v. EPA, a 2007 Supreme Court decision directing EPA to determine whether greenhouse gas emissions endangered public health or welfare and, if so, to regulate them accordingly. Two years later, EPA made what is known as an “endangerment finding” concerning the risks posed by greenhouse gases, thereby paving the way for it to set limits on greenhouse gas emissions from both vehicles and stationary sources.
Fast-forward a couple of years and the EPA had promulgated a series of regulations to address greenhouse gas emissions, including a controversial measure to address tail pipe emissions from motor vehicles. After the D.C. Circuit unanimously rejected industry challenges to the so-called “tail pipe rule,” and to other greenhouse gas regulations promulgated by the Agency, the Supreme Court granted certiorari. The High Court’s grant, however, was narrower than the petitioners request for review – agreeing to hear only the question of whether EPA “permissibly determined that its regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from new motor vehicles automatically triggered permitting requirements under the Clean Air Act for stationary sources that emit greenhouse gases.” While the grant of certiorari was seen as a win for industry, the narrowness of the question accepted by the Court inoculates EPA’s underlying endangerment finding, and the authority for its greenhouse gas regulations, from review, undoubtedly to the relief of the EPA.
Among the cases accepted for review as part of the petition was Utility Air Regulatory Group v. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 12-1146. The matter will be set for the Court’s spring 2014 calendar. Stay tuned for an update.