* EPA defends scientific basis for endangerment finding
* Texas and Virginia among 10 challengers
* Decision draws praise from environmental advocates
* Virginia official calls EPA's move "fatally flawed"
(Adds reaction, paragraphs 5-10)
By Deborah Zabarenko, Environment Correspondent
WASHINGTON, July 29 The U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency on Thursday rejected 10 petitions challenging
EPA's 2009 finding that climate-warming greenhouse gas
emissions endanger human health and the environment.
The EPA received petitions questioning the scientific basis
for the so-called endangerment finding -- which cleared the way
for the EPA to curb carbon dioxide emissions -- from Texas and
Virginia and groups like the Ohio Coal Association.
With the U.S. Senate abandoning climate measures in the
energy bill until at least September, the EPA has the authority
to regulate emissions from such human activities as coal-fired
power plants and fossil-fueled factories and vehicles.
"The endangerment finding is based on years of science from
the U.S. and around the world," EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson
said in a statement. "These petitions -- based as they are on
selectively edited, out-of-context data and a manufactured
controversy -- provide no evidence to undermine our
Environmental advocates praised the agency's decision for
its reliance on decades of research and the need for action to
limit climate-warming emissions.
"Some senators insist Congress should set global warming
policy, not the EPA, but ... the Senate has failed to get the
job done," said Kevin Knobloch, president of the Union of
Concerned Scientists. "Their failure to address climate exposes
their attacks on the EPA for what they are -- a blatant attempt
to eliminate the primary tool the government has to protect
Senator James Inhofe, one of Washington's most vocal
climate change skeptics, blasted EPA's move.
"EPA chose ... to dismiss legitimate concerns about data
quality, transparency, and billions of dollars of
taxpayer-funded science as products of 'conspiracies,'" Inhofe
said in a statement. "Rather, such ad hominem attacks are
products of closed-mindedness and ultimately harm EPA's
reputation and legal standing in court."
The EPA received petitions from the Coalition for
Responsible Regulation, the Commonwealth of Virginia, the
Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Ohio Coal Association,
the Pacific Legal Foundation, the Peabody Energy Company, the
Southeastern Legal Foundation, the State of Texas, the U.S.
Chamber of Commerce, and one private citizen.
Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli II called the
decision "fatally flawed procedurally because the agency has
reviewed and weighed new information without notice or comment
from the public."
Some of the petitioners had filed their complaints in
(Editing by Xavier Briand)