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February 17, 2010
US Chamber of Commerce Issues Court Challenge to EPA’s Endangerment Finding on Greenhouse Gases
    by Robert Kropp

In response to the EPA finding that greenhouse gas emissions threaten the public health and welfare of the American people, the Chamber challenges the Agency’s decision to trigger Clean Air Act regulation.

Responding to the endangerment finding on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions published by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in December, the US Chamber of Commerce filed a formal petition on February 12, asking a federal court to review the EPA ruling.

The endangerment finding, issued in response to a 2007 decision by the US Supreme Court that, based on the Clean Air Act, the Agency had the authority to regulate GHG emissions, determined that the six primary GHGs threaten the public health and welfare of the American people.

When EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson announced the endangerment finding in December, she said, “This long-overdue finding cements 2009’s place in history as the year when the United States Government began seriously addressing the challenge of greenhouse gas pollution and seizing the opportunity of clean-energy reform.”

Steven Law, chief legal officer and general counsel at the Chamber, posted the following on a Chamber blog: “The US Chamber strongly supports efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere, but we believe there’s a right way and a wrong way to achieve that goal.”

Law continued, “The right way is through bipartisan legislation.”

The Chamber “Will challenge EPA’s decision to trigger Clean Air Act regulation, based on lapses in EPA’s process in making that decision,” Law added.

Last September, Thomas Donohue, president and CEO of the Chamber, said, “The US Chamber of Commerce continues to support strong federal legislation and a binding international agreement to reduce carbon emissions and address climate change.”

However, Donohue continued, “We oppose the Waxman-Markey bill.” Passed by the US House of Representatives in June 2009, the Waxman-Markey Clean Energy Bill was praised by President Obama as “a historic piece of legislation that will open the door to a clean energy economy.” The US Senate has yet to act on its version of the legislation.

The Chamber’s vocal opposition to regulatory action on climate change led to several high-profile defections from its ranks. Apple and PG&E resigned from the Chamber, and Nike resigned from its position on the Board of Directors of the Chamber, stating that it “fundamentally disagrees with the US Chamber of Commerce on the issue of climate change and their recent action challenging the EPA is inconsistent with our view that climate change is an issue in need of urgent action.”

The importance of such defections transcend public relations, because, as Bruce Freed, President of the Center for Political Accountability (CPA), told in October, “The lobbying efforts by trade associations against climate change legislation present a dilemma for these companies.”

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the Chamber spent more than $144 million on lobbying efforts in 2009, far more than any other organization.


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