EPA's stance on greenhouse gas draws legal fire from Chamber of Commerce

Business group says legislative process is the way to address the challenges of greenhouse gas emissions.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor on

Been stewing over this one for a few days, because it's likely to be a protracted dispute. But did you know that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has actually filed a lawsuit with the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia that challenges the U.S. Environment Protection Agency's decision not to reconsider its position on greenhouse gas emissions?

The Chamber of Commerce along with a bunch of other groups including the mysterious Coalition for Responsible Regulation had petitioned the EPA to reconsider its finding from late last year. So now, some of them are resorting to legal action.

In filing its suit, the Chamber raised the spectre that many people who favor inaction on climate change seem to favor right now: that the EPA's finding will have a "significant negative impact" on jobs and local economies.

"The Chamber's lawsuit challenges the wisdom of regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, which simply was never intended to regulate something as complex as global climate change. The Chamber's lawsuit does not address the science of climate change. ... The Chamber supports efforts to address climate change that allow our economy to grow, increase the nation's energy security, and improve our environment. We continue to call on Congress to work through the legislative process, rather than having the EPA misapply environmental statutes like the Clean Air Act, which was not created to regulate greenhouse gas emissions."

So, at this point I'm thinking about all the times -- this year alone -- our legislators have backed away from doing something about the environment. How thrilled has the Chamber been about that? I'm also wondering, as a matter of course, if this will prompt any other high-profile companies to ditch their Chamber memberships, as Apple and Pacific, Gas & Electric and a bunch of other companies did last year. Dell, for one, is sticking, at least according to a recent blog on its corporate social responsibility page.

But the Chamber has a bigger issue to deal with internally: the rise of a maverick group called the Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy. The coalition is made up of local chambers who are focused on the flip side of addressing climate change -- that it could be a catalyst for group. (Very small at this point so who knows what will happen.) Here's some of its position statement:

"America can recognize up to 1.9 million new jobs, increase annual household income $1,100 and boost GDP $111 billion through comprehensive clean energy and climate policies. These are sound investments our nation cannot afford NOT to make."

From my perspective, the other thing we can't afford to do is sit around and do nothing. One good thing about this lawsuit, though, is that we'll be able to judge accordingly just how committed certain big businesses are to their corporate sustainability missions. If you want to learn more about the businesses that ARE actually putting money behind their environmental promises, there's a great list on the coalition's site. Can you envision your own company's logo there?

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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