By Dina Cappiello Associated Press
WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld the first-ever regulations aimed at reducing the gases blamed for global warming.
The rules, which were challenged by industry groups and various states, will reduce emissions of six heat-trapping gases from large industrial facilities such as factories and power plants, as well as from automobile tailpipes.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington said that the Environmental Protection Agency was “unambiguously correct” in using existing federal law to address global warming.
The ruling is perhaps the most significant to come on the issue since 2007, when the Supreme Court found that greenhouse gases could be controlled as air pollutants under the Clean Air Act.
It also lands during a presidential election year where there are sharp differences between the two candidates when it comes to how best to deal with global warming.
President Barack Obama’s administration has come under fierce criticism from Republicans, including Mitt Romney, for pushing ahead with regulations after Congress failed to pass climate legislation. In 2009, the EPA concluded that greenhouse gases endanger human health and welfare, triggering controls on automobiles and other large sources. But the administration has always said it preferred to address global warming through a new law.
The court on Tuesday denied two challenges to the administration’s rules, including one arguing that the agency erred in concluding greenhouse gases endanger human health and welfare.
The court dismissed arguments against two other regulations dealing with pollution from new factories and other industrial facilities, saying that no one challenging the rules could show they had been harmed by them.
Industry groups vowed to fight on.
“Today’s ruling is a setback for businesses facing damaging regulations from the EPA,” said Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers. “We will be considering all of our legal options when it comes to halting these devastating regulations. The debate to address climate change should take place in the U.S. Congress and should foster economic growth and job creation, not impose additional burdens on businesses.”
Environmentalists, meanwhile, called it a landmark decision for global warming policy, which has been repeatedly targeted by the Republican-controlled House.
“Today’s ruling by the court confirms that EPA’s common sense solutions to address climate pollution are firmly anchored in science and law,” said Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund.