WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Chamber of Commerce is mounting a legal challenge to the Obama administration’s bid to regulate greenhouse gas emissions through the Clean Air Act.
“The U.S. Chamber strongly supports efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere, but we believe there’s a right way and a wrong way to achieve that goal,” said Steven Law, a legal official for the business lobby group, in a statement on the chamber’s website.
Law said the right way to proceed was through a bipartisan effort that promotes new technology for reducing emissions, not through the Environmental Protection Agency, which has ruled greenhouse gases a health risk. Greenhouse gas emissions are blamed for heating up the planet.
Law said the Chamber of Commerce was “filing a formal petition indicating it will challenge EPA’s decision to trigger Clean Air Act regulation” in federal court and that it would release more details about how it is doing so later.
EPA regulations could go forward as early as March but the chamber’s action could be the first of a barrage of lawsuits to try to prevent the agency from acting.
The EPA is threatening to regulate carbon emissions if Congress will not. The House of Representatives narrowly passed a cap and trade bill in June, but it has stalled in the Senate.
Opponents are expected to argue it is the job of Congress, not the EPA, to try to stem greenhouse gas emissions.
President Barack Obama would rather have Congress act on a bill that could provide more protections for industry while also accomplishing more comprehensive pollution control. But he is using the threat of EPA regulation to encourage lawmakers.
Some prominent Senate Democrats have predicted that comprehensive climate control legislation, including a cap and trade mechanism allowing industry to buy and trade pollution permits, will not pass this year.
A recent poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press said only 28 percent of those surveyed now listed global warming as a top priority this year, down from 38 percent in 2007.
Under cap and trade, utilities, oil refineries and factories would be required to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases over the next 40 years. Companies would have to obtain permits for each ton of carbon dioxide they emit and the permits would be traded on a regulated exchange.
Reporting by Glenn Somerville and Russ Blinch; Editing by Peter Cooney