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Ten administrative petitions have been filed asking EPA to reconsider its Endangerment Finding, and lawsuits have been consolidated. The lawsuits and petitions were filed by industry groups, states, and lawmakers challenging the Endangerment Finding, EPA’s new mobile and stationary source rules, and EPA’s reconsideration of the [Steven] Johnson Memo. On June 18th, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that 17 consolidated appeals, Coalition for Responsible Regulation v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, will be held in abeyance until EPA resolves pending petitions to reconsider its December 2009 Endangerment Finding. The Endangerment Finding forms the legal cornerstone of EPA’s recent greenhouse gas regulations, including newly-enacted emission limitations for cars and light trucks and large stationary sources.

The arguments raised in the petitions for reconsideration and lawsuits target the scientific underpinnings of the Endangerment Finding. In particular, they are likely to focus on electronic mail messages and documents by climatologists at the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia that were disclosed last year. Challengers contend that those correspondences cast doubt on the reliability of the data relied on by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and ultimately EPA.

EPA has indicated that it will issue its reconsideration of the Endangerment Finding by the end of July, but there has been no indication from the agency that it will alter its findings. Therefore, it is likely that the legal challenges to the Endangerment Finding will be revived later this summer, in any event no later than the August 16, 2010, deadline set by the D.C. Circuit. If petitioners succeed on the merits of their challenges, EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act will be severely compromised and the vehicle standards and permitting requirements for stationary sources that it has put in place could be delayed or derailed.

MORE (Marten Law)