Federal Court: ‘Climate change is not a blank check for a president’

By Michael Bastasch

A federal court ruled against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and struck down an Obama administration rule to reduce chemicals commonly used in refrigerators and air conditioners.

The Obama-era rule to phase out hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, was published as the former administration pushed for it to be added to the Montreal Protocol, an international treaty on ozone-depleting chemicals.

“Here, EPA has tried to jam a square peg into a round hole” by trying to regulate HFCs without approval from Congress, D.C. Appeals Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh ruled. “Climate change is not a blank check for the President,” he wrote.

Two companies that manufacture products with HFCs filed suit in 2015, asking the court to strike down the rule. Mexico-based Mexichem Fluor and France-based Arkema argued EPA could only regulate ozone-depleting substances under its Significant New Alternatives Policy program, and HFCs aren’t ozone-depleting.

The D.C. Appeals Court ruled in their favor.

“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.”

Interestingly enough, EPA listed HFCs as a replacement for ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons, or CFC, in the 1990s. HFCs aren’t ozone-depleting, but they are greenhouse gases.

The Obama administration targeted HFCs as part of its global warming agenda. The Trump administration largely opposed Obama-era climate regulations, but was forced to defend the EPA rule in court.

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