WASHINGTON - A U.S. appellate court has turned down a request from utilities, oil refiners and the state of Texas to effectively delay the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions by the Environmental Protection Agency.
As a result, EPA and state agencies can begin to insist that companies use the "best available control technologies" to restrict emissions of carbon dioxide to obtain air permits.
The companies and Texas had sought a court order blocking the EPA from moving ahead until the end of a lawsuit challenging the agency's finding that greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and large industrial facilities endanger the health of Americans.
The companies contend in that lawsuit that EPA regulations would be too costly.
But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said Friday that the companies "have not shown that the harms they allege are 'certain,' rather than speculative."
Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been a particularly vocal opponent of EPA's authority over greenhouse gas emissions, and many members of Congress have vowed to fight any EPA effort to set limits. Many analysts say it could become a major point of confrontation between the GOP and the Obama administration next year.
Industry groups condemned the court's ruling. "Yet another blow was dealt in favor of overreaching government regulation and against the economic well-being of the American people," Charles Drevna, president of the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association, said in a statement.
Environmental organizations hailed the court's order. "The biggest polluters in America hired countless K Street lawyers to undermine EPA's science-based policies," said Vickie Patton, general counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund, "and they utterly failed . . ."