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Ruling in MEXICHEM FLUOR, INC., PETITIONER v. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY, RESPONDENT

August 8, 2017
By Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh

District of Columbia Circuit Court strikes down an ban on HFCs imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency in order to fight climate change as going beyond what the law allows.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) exceeded its authority under the Clean Air Act by requiring companies to replace hydroflurocarbons (HFCs) with other approved substances in an effort to fight climate change.

EPA’s 2015 rule effectively banned 38 different HFC and HFC blends from uses in aerosol spray cans, new automobile air conditioning systems, foam blowing machines, vending machines, and retail refrigerators beginning in 2020, as part of President Barack Obama’s administration plan to combat climate change.

The court found, "the fundamental problem for EPA is that HFCs are not ozone-depleting substances.".

"EPA’s well-intentioned policy objectives with respect to climate change do not on their own authorize the agency to regulate," the court ruled. "Under the Constitution, congressional inaction does not license an agency to take matters into its own hands, even to solve a pressing policy issue such as climate change. … However much we might sympathize or agree with EPA’s policy objectives, EPA may act only within the boundaries of its statutory authority. Here, EPA exceeded that authority."