By Ben Geman - 12/10/10 10:54 PM EST
EPA portrayed the order as a validation of its climate policies, even though the legal challenges remain in progress.
"This ruling confirms what EPA has said all along: that the agency's reasonable actions to address carbon pollution will unfold in a manageable and sensible way. Yet again, the doomsday predictions of special interest lobbyists have been proven wrong," said EPA spokesman Brendan Gilfillan in a statement Friday evening.
The court order applies to several lawsuits the court has consolidated from parties such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the state of Texas, the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Mining Association, and many other groups battling EPA climate rules that industry officials call harmful.
The various cases challenge EPA actions, including its endangerment finding last year that greenhouse gases threaten human welfare — a finding that is the legal underpinning for EPA's climate regulations.
The combined cases also address EPA’s rules for stationary industrial plants and vehicles. The agency has already completed auto-emissions rules that cover vehicles beginning with model year 2012.
Environmentalists cheered the court order.
“This is a victory for every American who wants better gas mileage and cleaner cars and factories. It means cleaner air, a stronger economy and a healthier future for us all,” said David Doniger, the policy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Climate Center.
But Scott Segal of the lobbying firm Bracewell & Giuliani — which represents refiners and utilities, among other companies — called the court order “unfortunate.”
“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,” he said in a statement. “Given the state of the economy, the decision is certainly not a welcome holiday present.”
National Association of Manufacturers Vice President for Litigation Quentin Riegel told The Hill he is confident that industry has a chance to succeed going forward, although he recognizes that courts give federal agencies "a fair amount of discretion."
"The court didn’t address the merit," Riegel said. "It didn’t say we don’t have a good case. I think we have a good case."
EPA is hardly in the clear. In additional to the ongoing legal challenges, ascendant House Republicans are planning legislation to kill EPA’s climate rules. Also, some Democrats — led by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) — are pushing a plan to block the rules for power plants, refineries and other stationary sources for two years.
Andrew Restuccia contributed.
This post was updated at 6:08 p.m. and 6:32 p.m.