WASHINGTON (CN) – A federal judge barred four aviation trade groups from intervening in a suit that could force the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions from “non-road vehicles,” including aircrafts.
The Air Transport Association of America, the National Business Aviation Association, the Aerospace Industries Association of America and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association filed motions to intervene in the action, claiming they had standing because the regulation of aircraft emissions would have sweeping, adverse economic consequences on their businesses.
But in a 17-page opinion and order filed Monday, U.S. District Judge Henry Kennedy Jr. saw it somewhat differently.
Kennedy didn’t dispute that regulations on such emissions would have enormous economic consequences for the trade groups’ members, but he found that any potential regulations aren’t close enough to being adopted, let alone implemented, to give the groups standing in the action against the EPA, which was brought by the Center for Biological Diversity, the Center for Food Safety, Friends of the Earth, the International Center for Technology Assessment and the group Oceana in June 2010.
The aviation trade groups couldn’t intervene in the action unless they proved that they face a “certainly impending” – not “hypothetical” – economic harm by a potential judgment in the plaintiffs’ favor.
Kennedy found that the groups failed to prove existence of a “certainly impending” harm, as a judgment for the plaintiffs wouldn’t immediately prompt the creation of the regulations the trade groups fear, but would merely initiate an EPA study to determine whether the emissions constitute a public danger. Convening a rulemaking process would depend on the results of that hypothetical study.
“Plaintiffs argue … that the implementation and enforcement of new emissions standards – and thus, the economic consequences thereof – are too hypothetical and too far removed from a judgment of this Court to constitute a ‘certainly impending,’ causally connected injury for standing purposes. Plaintiffs are correct,” the judge found.