U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Frederick Scullin has ordered EPA to respond to a petition by the Center for Biological Diversity requesting that EPA find that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from aircraft, ships and non-road engines endanger the public health and welfare.  EPA has already found that GHG emissions from automobile emissions endanger the public health and welfare, and has developed vehicle fuel economy and GHG rules based on that finding, which is being challenged in court. 

In his order issued on March 20, Judge Scullin found that there is no set schedule under the Clean Air Act for EPA to address the endangerment petition, and that EPA has discretion to address GHGs from various sectors according to its own timetable.  However, Judge Scullin noted that EPA’s discretion is not unlimited or unchecked, and does not entitle EPA to unduly delay in taking action. 

Noting that EPA agreed in its filings and during oral argument to respond to the petition within 90 days of the court’s order, Judge Scullin ordered EPA to do so.  If EPA finds that GHGs from aircraft, ships and non-road engines endanger the public health and welfare, it would then proceed to develop GHG emission controls for those sources.