Supreme Court declines to hear appeal in greenhouse gas case ruled on by Kavanaugh

The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to take up a lawsuit challenging a lower court ruling written by Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughPlanned Parenthood provides health care for millions of women in the US — we can't defund them Ruth Bader Ginsburg biopic gets DC red carpet premiere Supreme Court not for life? Beware perils to its independence MORE when he was a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The decision to pass on the case, announced during Kavanaugh’s first day as an associate justice, means the Supreme Court will not consider the lower court's August 2017 ruling that struck down an Obama-era regulation pertaining to a greenhouse gas. Kavanaugh did not participate in the Supreme Court's decision on whether to take up the case.

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Kavanaugh authored the ruling that overturned the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule on hydrofluorocarbons (HFC), commonly found in air conditioners and refrigerators. He argued that the federal government did not have the jurisdiction to regulate the gas under the Clean Air Act.

Kavanaugh likely would have recused himself from this case. Justices routinely recuse themselves from participating in cases they previously heard or worked on in the lower courts.

Environmentalist groups sought to appeal the lower court’s ruling and reinstate the 2016 regulation. But the Trump administration in August asked the Supreme Court not to take up the case since it was planning to submit a new HFC rule.

Coming only a day after the world’s leading climate scientists called for urgent action to curb dangerous carbon pollution, the court’s decision lets irresponsible companies to continue harming our planet — even though safer alternatives exist," said David Doniger, an attorney and senior strategic director of the climate and clean energy program at the Natural Resources Defense Council. 

“Thankfully, states are stepping up. Four already have committed to curbing HFCs, and more are expected soon to follow the leadership of California, New York, Maryland, and Connecticut.

EPA said the proposed rule, rolled out in September, is based off the agency’s determination that the previous rule “exceeded its statutory authority” by extending a refrigerant management requirement meant for ozone depleting substitutes to the gas, which does not contribute to ozone depletion.

The agency added that the new rule does not affect current requirements for other ozone-depleting refrigerants.