EPA Abandons Obama-Era Climate Rule That Brett Kavanaugh Struck Down

Michael Bastasch | Energy Editor
  • EPA is getting rid of an Obama-era rule more than a year after Judge Brett Kavanaugh struck it down.
  • “Climate change is not a blank check for the President,” Kavanaugh ruled in August 2017.
  • EPA says repealing the rule would save $40 million in compliance costs.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will get rid of an Obama-era regulation limiting the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) as a refrigerant in household appliances more than one year after a federal court struck it down.

EPA announced Wednesday it determined the Obama administration “exceeded its statutory authority” in pushing HFC regulations on appliances, like refrigerators and air conditioners, echoing language the D.C. Circuit Court used to strike down the regulation in 2017.

The court ruled in August 2017 that EPA had exceeded its authority by trying to regulate HFCs, a greenhouse gas, under provisions of federal law regarding ozone-depleting substances. HFCs are not ozone-depleting substances.

The author of the court’s opinion is none other than D.C. Circuit Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh. (RELATED: NYT Continues To Push FAKE NEWS About Hurricane Florence And Global Warming)

“However much we might sympathize or agree with EPA’s policy objectives, EPA may act only within the boundaries of its statutory authority,” Kavanaugh wrote. “Here, EPA exceeded that authority.”

“Climate change is not a blank check for the President,” Kavanaugh ruled.

President Donald Trump nominated Kavanaugh to replace former Justice Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court. Democrats and environmentalists oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination and cite decisions, like the one for Obama-era HFC rules, as reasons why.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noted that “Kavanaugh ruled that the EPA’s attempt to phase out hydrofluorocarbons, a particularly dangerous greenhouse gas found in refrigeration and air conditioning units, was outside its authority.”

“We’re not fighting for the planet in some abstract sense here. We’re fighting for our continued ability to live on it,” Clinton tweeted in September.

EPA announced its plans for HFCs in a press release on changes to three Obama-era regulations, arguing the changes would save $115 million in compliance costs. EPA said nixing the HFC rule would save $40 million.

“These rules would provide greater certainty to the regulated community in areas where previous EPA actions exceeded its legal authority or caused confusion and undue burdens,” EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement.

The new rule does not affect limitations on any other ozone-depleting substances, according to EPA.

“A lack of certainty from EPA hinders environmental protections and causes paralysis in the marketplace, and we are committed to fixing that,” Wheeler said.

The Obama administration introduced regulations to clamp down on HFCs in 2016, but two companies that manufacture products with HFCs sued. The D.C. Circuit court sided with the challengers in 2017.

“Here, EPA has tried to jam a square peg into a round hole” by trying to regulate HFCs without approval from Congress, Kavanaugh ruled.

Companies, led by Honeywell, that stood to benefit from HFC regulations and environmentalists appealed Kavanaugh’s decision to the Supreme Court. However, the Trump administration asked the high court in August not to take the case since it planned to change the Obama-era rule anyway.

Kavanaugh’s confirmation seems to hang in the balance after Christine Blasey Ford alleged he sexually assaulted her at a high school party in Maryland.

Republican senators are attempting to get Ford to testify on the matter, and Democrats are calling for the FBI to investigate the incident — despite the agency having no jurisdiction in this case.

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