EPA Is On A Winning Streak In Court Battles Over Clean Air


For the third time in three weeks, a panel of judges has ruled against industry groups’ attempts to overturn Environmental Protection Agency protections against air pollution.

On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the EPA’s standards cracking down on soot pollution from vehicles and power plants, siding with the EPA over the National Association of Manufacturers. According to the court decision, “EPA’s decision and explanation are at least reasonable,” given the authority granted by the Clean Air Act.


“Today’s court ruling strongly upholds Americans’ 44-year legal right to breathe clean, healthy air based upon what health and medical science tell us is protective, rather than based upon jaded economics or political interference,” John Walke, Clean Air Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, told ThinkProgress. “That right to breathe clean air is under attack in Congress, however, with Republican Senator John Thune just this week introducing a bill to eliminate Americans’ right to breathe clean air and replace it with a weak substitute that polluters and extreme politicians find more to their liking.”

According to Walke, the latest court decision marks the fifth time the industry groups have lost legal challenges to the Obama administration’s EPA air pollution health standards. The four other cases upheld standards that crack down on smog, lead, sulfur dioxide that forms acid rain, and nitrogen oxides that contribute to smog.

Last month, the Supreme Court upheld a regulation that limits pollution crossing state lines and the Court of Appeals sided with the EPA on cutting mercury and air toxics.

The Supreme Court has yet to decide on a different case concerning how the agency can regulate carbon pollution. That court is considering a limited question in this case, but climate activists and the industry are watching closely to see how the decision might affect upcoming carbon rules for existing coal-fired power plants, which will be issued in June.