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Court decision clears way for climate change controls

By Judy Fahys

Cleaner air and less of the pollution blamed for climate change will be among the benefits Utahns and other Americans can expect as a result of a federal appeals court ruling on Tuesday.

That was the consensus of environmental groups reacting to a U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia decision to uphold the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s "endangerment" finding, clean-car standards and pollution permit requirements for new and expanding large industrial plants.

"This is an enormous step for Utah and our nation," said Vickie Patton, an attorney with the Environmental Defense Fund, one of the environmental groups that argued in favor of the EPA’s decision to regulate greenhouse gasses blamed for climate change under the Clean Air Act.

"Under the court’s ruling today, families in Utah will have cleaner cars that save them money at the gas pump," Patton said. " It will help break our unhealthy addiction to foreign oil, and it will protect us from dangerous climate change."

The ruling upholds several areas of air-quality law, said Bryce Bird, director of the Utah Division of Air Quality. Those areas include:

Light-duty vehicles » Limits are retained for fuel-efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions and common pollutants associated with smog and sooty pollution.

Industrial plants » Stepped-up permit requirements apply to major changes at those that contribute significant greenhouse gasses and other pollution.

Greenhouse gas reporting » The "tailoring rule" defines which plants must inventory pollution related to climate change.

Bird said Utah had already been implementing the regulatory portions of EPA’s greenhouse gas program.

"On a day-to-day basis, this doesn’t change what we’ve already been doing," he said.

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