Kan. AG lauds federal ruling limiting EPA's power

6/24/2014

By Bryan Lowry

By Bryan Lowry

The Wichita Eagle

(MCT) — Attorney General Derek Schmidt lauded a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to limit some of the EPA's power to regulate greenhouse emissions.

The high court ruled 5-4 that the Environmental Protection Agency cannot use a provision of the Clean Air Act to regulate facilities, such as factories and refineries, solely on the basis that they emit greenhouse gases.

Schmidt called the ruling "an important victory for Kansas jobs, our state's economy, and the rule of law."

Kansas joined twelve other states and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in challenging the agency's use of permitting programs to regulate greenhouse emissions under the Obama administration.

"This ruling is about basic civics," Schmidt said in a statement. "Those who seek additional government controls on greenhouse gases need to engage the United States Congress, where issues like these can be fully debated — not bypass Congress and attempt to stretch existing laws beyond all recognition."

"To ensure that any regulatory action EPA pursues stays within the law, Kansas stands ready and willing to challenge any regulation that exceeds EPA's authority," Schmidt said.

Gov. Sam Brownback issued a statement praising the decision and saying it is "only step one of many in the fight to maintain our rights as a State. We still face the unnecessary listing of the Lesser Prairie Chicken, the expanded EPA rule on Waters of the U.S., and various other areas of federal government overreach."

The practical impact of the ruling will be limited. The court kept the EPA's power to regulate greenhouse gases intact.

The court ruled that the agency could continue to regulate facilities under its Prevention of Significant Deterioration Program, but that it could not regulate solely on the basis of emissions, as that could extend to smaller sources such as schools, churches and shopping centers, according to Justice Antonin Scalia.

The agency sought to regulate 86 percent of sources of greenhouse emissions; it still will be able to regulate 83 percent under the court's ruling, according Justice Antonin Scalia.

"EPA is getting almost everything it wanted in this case," Scalia said when announcing the decision, according to the Washington Post.

Environmentalists saw the ruling as a victory.

Zack Pistoria, legislative director for the Kansas Sierra Club, responded to the case's outcome in an e-mail.

"Today's Supreme Court's ruling reaffirms two established points: First, that the largest new industrial facilities and all our current biggest polluters will need to limit their greenhouse gas emissions, and second, that the Clean Air Act gives the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency specific capacity to regulate climate-disrupting pollution including carbon dioxide and methane," Pistoria said. "This case, and the court precedent set prior, dictates that greenhouse gas pollution can and should be regulated."

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