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AG Cuccinelli responds to EPA in court, underscoring agency's improper conduct in greenhouse gases ruling
~ Brief filed on behalf of Texas, Virginia, 13 other states ~
RICHMOND, VA (October 18, 2011)--Virginia Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli, II announced today that his office has filed a response to the Environmental Protection Agency in his appeal of the agency's 2009 ruling that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are pollutants dangerous to human health.
The reply brief was filed Monday in the District of Columbia Circuit Court on behalf of Virginia, Texas, and 13 other states. The brief argues the EPA did not follow its own rules when it used data from outside entities to arrive at the endangerment finding without testing that data according to its own research standards. The brief also states that EPA improperly denied Virginia's and Texas's petition for reconsideration of the finding.
The filing of the brief followed the release of the EPA's own inspector general's investigation in late September which showed that the agency did indeed fail to follow its own rules when it concluded greenhouse gases are a danger to human health.
In part, the reply brief states:
- Rather than performing its own research to determine that greenhouse gases were a danger to public health and welfare, the EPA accepted work done by others, including the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), without following its own and other federal rules to ensure that the data adhered to EPA's own standards for data quality.
- The EPA inspector general has found that the agency also violated its own peer-review standards during the endangerment finding process, including removing conflicts of interest, as one of the peer reviewers was an EPA employee.
- The Clean Air Act requires the EPA administrator to conduct reconsideration with public notice and comment when significant new evidence relevant to its ruling is presented in a timely manner. Such a rehearing is triggered when the new evidence would provide substantial support that the regulation should be revised.
"We have asked the EPA since February 2010 to simply reopen its hearings and review its finding while following proper rules and procedures, as well as allow new, conflicting evidence that has become available since the original finding," the attorney general said in an October 5 statement. "The EPA's failure to follow its own rules calls into question everything it has done. Whenever a government agency states a conclusion that is allegedly based on science, but refuses to comply with its own rules that require it to 'show its work,' we should all be concerned."
"As attorney general, I do not file suit against the federal government because I disagree with it over a policy; I can only bring suit when the federal government does not follow the law or proper procedures," said Cuccinelli. "In fact, I recently commended the EPA for stopping an alleged Chesapeake Bay polluter," he said, referring to an October 14 statement. "When the EPA works within the bounds of its authority to enforce environmental regulations, I support its efforts to protect America's and Virginia's interests."
The inspector general's report can be found here. In a statement issued two days after the report, the inspector general stated, "EPA disagreed with our conclusions and did not agree to take any corrective actions in response to this report."
Besides Virginia and Texas, the thirteen other states in the suit are Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Nebraska, Michigan, and Kentucky.
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