Discussion Paper

Greenhouse Gas Regulation under the Clean Air Act: Does Chevron v. NRDC Set the EPA Free?

Dec 3, 2009 | Nathan Richardson


The EPA is likely to face a big legal problem on the path to regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act (CAA). Actions the agency is taking now will likely set it on a mandatory path toregulation of GHGs under the comprehensive “National Ambient Air Quality Standards” (NAAQS) program—a scheme that almost everyone who has studied the CAA thinks is a very poor fit for GHG regulation and which blocks use of arguably more effective schemes within the CAA. Unless the EPA can win a lawsuit challenging an interpretation of the CAA that has stood for more than 30 years, or Congress explicitly takes away the agency’s authority to set a GHG NAAQS with new legislation, the agency will have to navigate the complex NAAQS process—with potentially large effects on the efficiency andeffectiveness of GHG regulation.