UPDATE 1-U.S. Supreme Court takes no action on climate change cases

Tue Oct 1, 2013 10:55am EDT

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(Adds details on petitions, background)

By Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON Oct 1 (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court took no action on Tuesday on petitions that could have it undertake a potentially wide-ranging legal review of the Obama administration's first wave of regulations aimed at battling climate change.

The rules, which apply to a cross-section of polluters from vehicles to industrial facilities, are aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Scientists say these are the prime contributor to climate change.

Petitions to review the rules were not mentioned in a list of new cases the court will hear in its next term, issued on Tuesday, signaling it may decline to hear any of the cases or may delay acting on them until a later date.

States, including Texas and Virginia, and industry groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce had filed petitions asking the justices to review the regulations, arguing they would pose an economic burden to implement, among other complaints.

The Environmental Protection Agency regulations are among President Barack Obama's most significant tools to address climate change after the U.S. Senate scuttled in 2010 his effort to pass a federal law that would, among other things, have set a cap on greenhouse gas emissions.

If the court were to proceed with any of the petitions, it would be the biggest environmental case since Massachusetts v. EPA, the landmark 2007 decision in which the justices ruled that carbon dioxide was a pollutant that could be regulated under the Clean Air Act. {ID:nL2N0DO2J7]

The court's new term starts on Monday, Oct. 7. The court, which generally hears less than one percent of the petitions that are filed, is likely to announce a list of cases it has decided not to hear on Oct. 7.

A federal appeals court in Washington upheld the rules, which were issued by the EPA under the Clean Air Act, in a 2012 ruling. The EPA is a federal agency responsible for protecting human health and the environment. (Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Howard Goller and Krista Hughes)

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