Paul Gutermann Discusses Supreme Court Climate Case with SNL

SNL, in its article “Observers: Power sector would benefit little from climate case victory,” interviewed Akin Gump environment practice head Paul Gutermann on a U.S. Supreme Court review of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authority to require power plants to obtain permits for greenhouse gas (GHG) emission.

Gutermann said that oil and gas refiners and producers, which oppose the EPA’s GHG regulations, stand to benefit more than the electric power industry, adding “The oil and gas industry has an opportunity of strongly supporting the challenges to these regulations, and buying at least some time before greenhouse gas regulations hit that industry.”

He said that the industry has a chance of winning its challenge to the GHG permitting program for stationary sources, noting that one argument would be that EPA was required to make an endangerment finding for stationary sources prior to issuing its rulemaking, in the same way it had done for mobile sources: “There is theoretically enough of a difference that the court could rule that a separate endangerment finding is required, or possibly that the EPA hasn't looked at precisely that issue, which is whether the basis for the endangerment finding they did for mobile sources was sufficiently general, or covered issues that also applied to stationary sources.”

Gutermann added that the endangerment finding, which found that GHG from mobile sources contribute to air pollution that may endanger the public, is a “statutory prerequisite for there to be PSD [prevention of significant deterioration] applicability.”  Given that the finding focused on automobile emissions rather than those from power plants, he said that EPA may have to conduct another study.