Bennet, Crow, Perlmutter, DeGette, Neguse Join Over 190 Congressional Lawmakers to File Amicus Brief Defending EPA’s Clean Air Act Authority

Denver — Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet and Colorado U.S. Representatives Jason Crow, Ed Perlmutter, Diana DeGette, and Joe Neguse joined U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.) and U.S. Representatives Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) and Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.) and more than 180 congressional Democrats in submitting an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in the case of West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The amicus brief supports the EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act (CAA) to protect the public from harmful pollution, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and address the climate crisis. It also rejects spurious arguments made by congressional Republicans in their amicus brief, in which they wrongly challenge the EPA’s authority to address climate pollution.

“The landmark Clean Air Act has a proven track record over more than 50 years of effectively protecting public health, curbing air pollution, and safeguarding our environment,” said Bennet. “The Act’s long bipartisan history stands in stark contrast to recent misguided attempts to undermine the clear authority it gives EPA to ensure all Americans can breathe clean air. This Supreme Court case has enormous implications for EPA’s ability to continue to do its job and to confront the urgent challenge of climate change. At this moment, when we have so much more work to do to protect the health and environment of communities in Colorado and across the country, I urge the Court to affirm EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act.”

“As air quality on the Front Range gets increasingly worse, Coloradans understand just how important it is that we use all the tools we can to reduce pollution and safeguard our health,” said Crow. “For 50 years now, the Environmental Protection Agency has used its authority to address air pollution. But now, polluters are trying to make an end run around the Congress, and use the Supreme Court to overturn this long-established law. The Supreme Court must not reward this behavior as these groups try to use the Court to achieve their political and legislative agenda. I’m proud to stand with my colleagues and Colorado congressional Democrats as we fight to uphold the law, the will of Congress, and our right to clean air. We must uphold the Clean Air Act.”

“The EPA should have the ability to protect the health of all Americans,” said Perlmutter. “That means upholding the Clean Air Act – as Congress already affirmed – and allowing the EPA to reduce harmful pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. These Republican attempts to undermine the EPA threaten Americans’ right to breathe clean air and prevents us from addressing the climate crisis. We must continue to defend the Clean Air Act and uphold the mission of the EPA for Americans today, tomorrow and for generations to come.”

“Anyone suggesting that EPA doesn’t have the authority to regulate the harmful emissions that are driving this climate crisis clearly hasn’t read the law,” said DeGette. “The entire purpose of Congress approving the Clean Air Act was to give EPA the authority it needed to protect our environment and the public’s health from such threats. This case is nothing more than a last-ditch effort by those trying to undermine our nation’s environmental laws, and it’s important that the Court sees it for what it is.”

“For Coloradans who experienced some of the worst air quality on record this past summer, they understand all too well the importance of clean air and environmental protection as we seek to tackle the climate crisis and safeguard the outdoors for future generations,” said Neguse. “For decades the Clean Air Act has worked to block harmful pollutants and protect public health and any attempt to undermine this foundational law is a threat to Coloradans and a threat to our future. As the impacts of climate change become all the more intense and life-threatening, we cannot afford to take steps backward on environmental protection. It is crucial, we ensure the Clean Air Act is upheld.”

The Amicus Brief argues that:

  • By enacting the CAA, Congress gave the EPA broad authority to regulate air pollution like carbon dioxide (CO2). Section 111(d) of the CAA serves as a gap-filling provision to give the EPA flexibility to address pollution problems that developed since the CAA was passed over 50 years ago.
  • Congress has taken an all-hands-on-deck approach to a problem as complex as climate change. The Republican arguments that new bills that seek to address the climate crisis somehow limit the authority of the EPA or repeal its existing authority do not hold water.
  • Congress explicitly affirmed the EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gases (GHGs) like CO2 with a bipartisan vote on the resolution last year to re-impose an Obama-era rule supporting the EPA's regulation of methane emissions.
  • Republicans have failed to curtail the EPA's authority through Congress. They are now asking the court to do what they haven't been able to do legislatively.
  • Congress is creating as many avenues as possible to deal with the climate crisis. The Court should tread carefully in curtailing any specific tool, including the CAA.

In addition to Bennet and Carper, the brief was signed by U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Angus S. King (I-Maine), Cory A. Booker (D-N.J.), Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.), Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-Pa.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Kirsten E. Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), and Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.).

In addition to Crow, Perlmutter, DeGette, and Neguse, 157 Democratic representatives signed the amicus brief.

The full text of the amicus brief is available HERE.