EPA Allowed to Enforce Climate Change Rules With Suit Pending

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s rules over emissions related to climate change can be enforced while a legal challenge to them proceeds, a federal appeals court said.

Industry groups and coal mining companies, including Massey Energy Co., last year asked for a review of the agency’s rules on greenhouse gasses and carbon emissions. The EPA rules challenged were published on the Federal Register in December 2009, according to the lawsuit.

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington yesterday denied a request by the challengers to put enforcement of the climate change rules on hold while the lawsuit is pending.

“Petitioners have not satisfied the stringent standards required for a stay pending court review,” the appeals panel said. “Petitioners have not shown that the harms they allege are ‘certain’ rather than speculative.”

The ruling may put a stop to some construction projects scheduled to begin in 2011, said Scott Segal of Bracewell Giuliani, a law and lobbying firm that represent utilities, refiners, cement companies and manufacturers.

“In light of the substantial disagreement over whether federal, state and local regulators can be ready in time to impose preconstruction permit requirements by early January, the court may have ensured an effective construction moratorium for industrial and power projects,” Segal said in an e-mailed statement.

“This is a victory for every American who wants better gas mileage and cleaner cars and factories,” David Doniger, policy director for the Climate Center at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in an e-mailed statement. “It means cleaner air, a stronger economy and a healthier future for us all.”

The case is Coalition for Responsible Regulation Inc. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 09-1322, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).