Court Rejects Virginia Attorney General’s Effort to Block Action on Climate Change
A federal court today rejected Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s challenge to the Environmental Protection Agency’s finding that greenhouse gases endanger human health and welfare. The Southern Environmental Law Center represented Norfolk-based Wetlands Watch before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in defending EPA’s conclusion that was based on the damaging impacts of climate change already in evidence as well as projected effects – for coastal Virginia and globally.
The decision upholding EPA’s “endangerment finding” comes just two days after the release of a new report by the U.S. Geological Survey finding that higher global temperatures are making the U.S. east coast a hotspot for sea level rise, and sea level is rising faster in Norfolk than any other city on the Atlantic coast.
“This decision means Virginians can move past the ginned-up “Climategate” controversy and refocus on how to solve the serious harms that are already underway from rising sea levels and other impacts of climate change,” said SELC senior attorney Morgan Butler. “Taking actions to limit greenhouse gas emissions will not only benefit our vulnerable coastal communities, but will also promote energy independence, a healthier environment, and new jobs.”
Skip Stiles, executive director with Wetlands Watch, hailed the court’s decision. “We can’t afford to debate this any longer. The tidewater area has to deal with the damaging effect of climate change every day, as floodwaters are backing up higher in neighborhoods, and storm surges are causing more damage every year. We hope today’s decision will put a rest to Mr. Cuccinelli’s attempts to undercut the efforts of many communities in his own state to address this growing challenge.”
EPA’s endangerment finding is the foundation of the agency’s recent regulatory actions to curb greenhouse gas emissions. In the same ruling upholding that finding today, the court also upheld EPA’s clean car standards and its permitting requirements for industrial facilities that are major emitters of greenhouse gases.