Va. AG Cuccinelli: ‘The EPA has violated the law here’

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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia is considering challenges this week to the Environmental Protection Agency’s determination that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are pollutants and subject to federal regulation.

In addition to suits on the part of a number of companies and business groups, Virginia and 14 other states charge that the EPA violated its own rules by using data from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), rather than internal research, in order to make the initial greenhouse gas endangerment findings. The states also charge that the EPA violated the law by failing to reopen hearings in light of new data.

“It is our view that the EPA has violated the law here,” Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said on a conference call with reporters on Tuesday. “We don’t file lawsuits because we don’t like policies. We only file lawsuits if they break the law, and here the EPA has broken the law by relying on — among other ways — by relying on IPCC data rather than doing its own research.”

Two years ago, Cuccinelli petitioned to have the EPA reconsider its 2009 “Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Finding for Greenhouse Gases Under Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act” in light of the release of the Dec. 2009 “Climategate emails” and reports that the IPCC might have manipulated their data.

“We are in court because the EPA has refused to do even that,” Cuccinelli said of the EPA’s failure to consider additional data.

Virginia is joined in its suit by Texas, Alabama, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah. (RELATED: Full coverage of the Environmental Protection Agency)

Cuccinelli pointed out that last September, the EPA’s inspector general issued a report noting that the agency violated its own requirements for data quality by using the IPCC’s data for the Endangerment Finding.

“This is clearly a political agenda — not a protecting-the-planet agenda,” Cuccinelli said. “They did this with no regard for economic impact and, of course, more importantly for us, in violation of the law, again, by improperly delegating its research authority to the United Nations’ IPCC and those scientists — most of whom are offshore — and refusing to consider the newly discovered information.”

According to Cuccinelli, at the crux of the states’ challenge is the EPA’s disinterest in opposing data.

“From the very beginning of all this, all we have asked EPA to do is simply reopen its hearings to accept the conflicting data — data that is not consistent with the conclusion they want to draw — as well as follow the law, of course, and verify the data it already used, so we all can have an honest look at the information used to make such an economy-altering decision for this country. We are in court because, to date, the EPA has refused to do even that.”

Bloomberg reports that more than 60 lawsuits have been filed challenging the EPA’s ruling. The D.C. Court of Appeals is scheduled to spend Tuesday and Wednesday hearing challenges to the rule.

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