Environmental, Regulatory Developments

SCOTUS Declines Review of EPA Endangerment Finding

In December 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) declined to hear a case challenging the EPA’s authority to address climate pollution under the Clean Air Act (CAA).

The Concerned Household Electricity Consumers Council (CHECC) and the FAIR Energy Foundation (Fair), the two groups requesting SCOTUS review, have taken a well-known stance that denies the integrity of climate science.

Their petition to gain standing before SCOTUS “challenged the [EPA’s] Endangerment Finding—the foundational, science-anchored determination that carbon dioxide, methane and other climate pollutants endanger human health and the environment—and lost in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit,” states a press release issued by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).

“Today’s decision is welcome news as EPA has a bedrock responsibility under our nation’s clean air laws to protect the American people from the clear and present danger of climate pollution,” said Vickie Patton, EDF general counsel, in the press release. EDF was a party to the case. “EPA’s determination that climate pollution harms people’s health and well-being is solidly anchored in science and the law, which EPA and the courts have found numerous times in the face of repeated and flawed attacks. We must keep working to protect all people from extreme weather and other pollution-fueled harms of the climate crisis, and we have no time to waste.”

The question presented in the denied SCOTUS petition was “Can the ‘injury in fact’ element of standing, as to a consumer group challenging a federal agency action, be established by an evidentiary showing that the policies mandated by that agency action have resulted in large increases in consumer prices in the places where they have been implemented?”

The groups challenged the EPA on these grounds in 2022 over its decision not to reconsider its 2009 greenhouse gas (GHG) endangerment finding, which gave the EPA authority to regulate GHG emissions under the CAA. That finding led to a whole slew of emissions regulations, including regulations for trucks, passenger cars, airplanes, and power plants.

In denying the CHECC’s and Fair’s petitions for reconsideration, “the EPA determined that the arguments and evidence that CHECC and FAIR proffered to challenge the Endangerment Finding were ‘inadequate, erroneous, and deficient,’” states the D.C. Circuit Court’s dismissal document.

That decision found the groups had failed “to establish standing because they provide no evidence that they or any of their members have been injured by the Endangerment Finding.”

“The D.C. Circuit decision also pointed out that the court had previously rejected numerous other challenges to the Endangerment Finding,” adds the EDF press release.

EDF filed a brief in the D.C. Circuit Court case as a respondent-intervenor defending the EPA’s science-based determination of the Endangerment Finding.  EDF was joined in the brief by the American Lung Association, the American Public Health Association, the Appalachian Mountain Club, the Clean Air Council, Clean Wisconsin, the National Parks Conservation Association, and the Natural Resources Council of Maine.

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