Can the EPA Regulate CO2?!?

On October 20, 1999, a coalition of environmental and social activist groups, filed a petition with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calling upon the agency to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases under Section 202 of the Clean Air Act. Drawing on comments by two EPA General Counsels asserting that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases could be regulated as "pollutants" under the Clean Air Act, the petition calls for the regulation of greenhouse gases from mobile sources (i.e. cars and trucks). In particular, the petition calls for more stringent automobile fuel economy standards and a mandate that automakers produce and sell more hybrid and fuel cell vehicles.

The lead group on the petition was the International Center for Technology Assessment (ICTA), founded by Jeremy Rifkin which has fought the development of biotechnology for years. Other groups on the petition range from Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace to Public Citizen, the Alliance for Sustainable Communities and the Solar Energy Industries Association.  

After a lengthy delay, the EPA initiated a rulemaking to respond to the ICTA petition.  Specifically, the EPA sought "any scientific, technical, legal, economic or other aspects" of climate change and the regulation of greenhouse gases that could be relevant to the rulemaking. 

UPDATE:  On December 5, 2002, ICTA, the Sierra Club and Greenpeace filed suit against the EPA for failing to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

UPDATE:  In January 2003, several state attorneys general announced their intent to file suit against the EPA for failure to regulate greenhouse gases.  The state AGs seek to have carbon dioxide classified as a criteria air pollutant under the Clean Air Act.  

UPDATE:  On February 20, 2003, seven states announced another suit against the EPA, seeking to force the regulation of utility emissions of carbon dioxide under the New Source Performance Standard provisions of the Clean Air Act.  See the New York Times story here.

UPDATE:  Adler article discussing suits on National Review Online here.





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