Petition in the News

CPR Initiative Director Dan Galpern with Dr. James E. Hansen, outside the Federal District Court of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon. 2016. Photo by Joshua Galpern.

CPR Initiative’s Petition to EPA is Making Headlines

September 13, 2022

Washington Monthly

In The Environmental Statute That Could Save the World, CPR Initiative General Counsel and Executive Director Dan Galpern explains how the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act can and should be used to control greenhouse gases:

“TSCA is a bedrock environmental law, passed in 1976 and substantially strengthened at several junctures—most recently in 2016, to protect the public from existing chemicals that threaten public health or the environment. Under TSCA, Congress sought to ensure a more comprehensive and systematic approach to control pollution, including by providing the EPA with ‘adequate authority‘ to restrict chemical substances that ‘present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment.’ GHG pollution, including carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane emissions, presents an unreasonable risk.”

“EPA action is critical. The science in our petition establishes that humanity has already overshot the safe level of atmospheric CO2, methane, and other greenhouse gases. Tinkering at the margins will not do, and no other statute confers sufficient authority to get this done.”

June 20, 2022

The Washington Post

Opinion Column

In To Stop Climate Change, Regulate Carbon as a Toxic Substance, veteran columnist Eugene Robinson reports, briefly, on the battle against climate change, observing that, “[b]y any scientific measurement, we’re losing. Yet we have to find a way to snatch an acceptable victory from the closing jaws of defeat, because the consequences of runaway climate change are no longer theoretical.”

Robinson proceeds to cite Dr. Hansen: “We should have started taking action decades ago. That’s the best time. . .The second-best time is now.” Robinson notes that Dr. Hansen is one of five individuals on behalf of whom we filed our Petition to EPA to Phase Out GHG Pollution. The central law on which the Petition relies is the Toxic Substances Control Act, the very law, as Robinson points out, “that was used, for example, to ban chemicals known as chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, whose widespread use was damaging the ozone layer of the atmosphere, which protects the earth from damaging ultraviolet radiation. Since CFCs were curtailed, the ozone layer has begun to heal itself.” Further, Robinson wrote that:

Using existing law and agreed-upon science is a clever strategy. But the major impediments to addressing climate change have always been political. The fossil-fuel industry would use its vast stores of money and influence to fight EPA regulation of carbon. The Biden administration might well balk at the idea of taking any such action at a time when world energy markets are in turmoil and U.S. consumers are paying about $5 a gallon for gasoline. The conservative majority on the Supreme Court might be skeptical, if not scornful, of the idea that such sweeping change could be mandated by executive branch rulemaking.

But it’s all there in black and white in the Toxic Substances Control Act, which passed and was amended with bipartisan support. Textualists will have to tie themselves in knots to explain why the law’s words don’t mean what they clearly say.”

June 16, 2022

Inside EPA

Note: (subscription required)

In Climate Group Files Novel Petition Asking EPA To Regulate GHGs Under TSCA, veteran reporter Dawn Reeves cites Petitioner Donn Viviani for the proposition that the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) authorizes EPA to restrict “specific chemical substances that impose ‘an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment’.” These include greenhouse gases, according to Viviani. Moreover, “here, as President Biden has recognized, we confront an ‘existential threat’ from climate change,” making the risk “unreasonable,” so that “EPA needs to act.”

The Inside EPA article also quoted CPR Initiative’s Dan Galpern: “TSCA provides a very strong tool” providing EPA with a “firm legal foundation for a wide-ranging decarbonization program,” Galpern observed. Petitioner and renowned climate scientist James E. Hansen agreed, noting that if the Agency adopts the Petition and thereby “makes the price of fossil fuels include their cost to society,” then that “will be a major step in the right direction.”

June 16, 2022

The Guardian

In Greenhouse Gases Must be Legally Phased Out, US Scientists Argue, veteran Guardian report Fiona Harvey observed that in support of the Petition, we filed “a mountain’s worth” of scientific studies “showing the impact of greenhouse gases on weather, which results in wildfires, heatwaves, severe drought, rising sea levels and increasingly acidified oceans.”

Near the article’s close, Harvey cited to Donn Viviani’s thoughts about the President: “President Biden is an empathic man; we hope he is also a brave man. We hope he will use both his empathy and bravery to pick up this tool he has in [Toxic Substances Control Act] TSCA, and use it to give hope that a solution will be found to the many millions of young people, and in fact all of us.”

December 28, 2021

The American Spectator

In What’s Biden’s Next Move on Climate?, the conservative legal scholar E. Donald Elliott reviewed the options by Senate Democrats and the Biden Administration in the wake of Senator Manchin’s late-2021 rejection of their Build Back Better legislation. He writes:

“As politicians, they are mainly angry because they can’t deliver giveaways to likely voters prior to the next election, but they’re also upset because they don’t have a back-up plan to make good on the Biden administration’s ambitious commitment at the recent Glasgow conference to reduce U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) from fossil fuels by 50 percent by 2030. The Progressive Caucus is demanding that the president use his “executive authority” to implement his agenda.

The way to use existing executive authority against climate change is staring them in the face in the form of two pending citizen petitions filed by Dan Galpern [founder of] the Climate Protection and Restoration Initiative (CPRI). . . .”

In his column, Elliott proceeds to discuss CPR Initiative’s earlier petition to impose a rising fee on oil, gas and coal, as well as our present effort to utilize existing law to both phase out continuing GHG pollution and also to compel removal of a share of legacy emissions that are superheating the planet and poisoning the ocean.

Elliott is a former general counsel of the Environmental Protection Agency who now teaches at the Scalia School of Law in Washington D.C. He wrote his column prior to our recent filing of the current Petition to EPA, and based on an earlier draft of it that we published for purposes of garnering comment. Elliott has since endorsed the Petition in his independent, personal capacity.