EPA Chief: Climate-Change Regulation ‘Done Deal’ Despite Supreme Court Review


WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 20: Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy addresses a breakfast event at the National Press Club September 20, 2013 in Washington, DC. McCarthy announced that the EPA is proposing regulations to limit greenhouse gas emissions, which requires future coal burning power plants to decrease 40 percent of their emission. 
National Journal
Ben Geman
Jan. 30, 2014, 5:38 a.m.

En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion Agency Ad­min­is­trat­or Gina Mc­Carthy is con­fid­ent that the Su­preme Court won’t throw a wrench — at least not a big one — in­to her agency’s power to lim­it car­bon-di­ox­ide emis­sions.

Mc­Carthy, ap­pear­ing on MS­N­BC on Thursday, said reg­u­la­tion of heat-trap­ping emis­sions un­der the Clean Air Act is a “done deal,” and noted that the high court, in a land­mark 2007 de­cision, ruled that EPA had au­thor­ity over car­bon pol­lu­tion.

Her com­ments come ahead of Feb. 24 or­al ar­gu­ments be­fore the Su­preme Court in a case about EPA’s ini­tial car­bon per­mit­ting reg­u­la­tions for big new and mod­i­fied in­dus­tri­al pol­lu­tion sources.

But the case is not about EPA’s au­thor­ity to is­sue up­com­ing, high-pro­file rules that will im­pose first-time emis­sions stand­ards on the na­tion’s power plants un­der a sep­ar­ate sec­tion of the Clean Air Act. Mc­Carthy noted that what’s be­fore the Su­preme Court is a lim­ited per­mit­ting ques­tion.

“What is be­fore them right now is not speak­ing to wheth­er the Clean Air Act can reg­u­late car­bon pol­lu­tion, … the en­dan­ger­ment find­ing that said that cli­mate change [does] en­danger pub­lic health — they are not ques­tion­ing any of that. That is not be­fore them,” she said on MS­N­BC’s The Daily Run­down.

The en­dan­ger­ment find­ing refers to EPA’s de­term­in­a­tion sev­er­al years ago that green­house gases are a threat to the pub­lic, a find­ing that forms the un­der­pin­ning for EPA’s cli­mate reg­u­la­tions.

Some in­dustry at­tor­neys and groups have said the cur­rent Su­preme Court case, while lim­ited in scope, cracks open the door to a rul­ing that af­fects oth­er parts of EPA’s cli­mate agenda or fore­shad­ows fu­ture re­view of the high-pro­file power plant rules.

But Mc­Carthy dis­puted the no­tion of a broad­er threat to EPA’s cli­mate au­thor­ity, not­ing the case is “very nar­row.”

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