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Office of the Vermont Attorney General

Attorney General Donovan Joins Amicus Brief to Support EPA Regulation of Greenhouse Gases

September 28, 2017

CONTACT: Nicholas Persampieri , Assistant Attorney General , (802) 828-3186

Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan joined nine other state attorneys general and state agencies from two other states to file an amicus brief in support of efforts by the Natural Resources Defense Council and domestic manufacturers to have the full D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals rehear a case that has national and international significance for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ability to address climate change.

Earlier this summer, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in the case of Mexichem v. EPA that the EPA lacked authority under the Clean Air Act to ban certain uses of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). HFCs are potent greenhouse gases and are used primarily in refrigeration and air conditioning systems.

In a 2-1 ruling, the panel invalidated a key portion of a 2015 EPA rule which implements Congress’ directive that substances which cause depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer be replaced by safe alternatives. Congress charged EPA with approving or prohibiting alternatives for ozone depleting substances based on whether their use would reduce overall risks to human health and the environment. EPA initially approved the use of HFCs as an alternative for ozone depleting substances in 1994. However, after gaining greater scientific understanding that HFCs are potent greenhouse gases and the availability of safer alternatives, in the 2015 Rule the EPA sought to prohibit certain uses of HFCs. The panel of the court ruled that EPA lacked the authority to prohibit manufacturers who had already substituted HFCs for ozone depleting substances from continuing to use HFCs. In so ruling, the court sided with two foreign manufactures of HFCs, and ruled against two domestic manufacturers who have developed alternatives for HFCs.

Joining Vermont in the filing of the amicus brief were the attorneys general of California and the California Air Resources Board, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington. Minnesota joined through its Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

Last modified: March 12, 2018