Oregon Businesses Petition Court for Review of DEQ Climate Rules, Alleging Overreach by Governor

Gov. Kate Brown directed DEQ to act after Republicans walked out of the Capitol to block legislation that would have curbed greenhouse gases.

A group of Oregon business interests today filed a petition with the Oregon Court of Appeals demanding a judicial review of the Department of Environmental Quality’s climate rules, alleging that the agency has no authority to regulate greenhouse gases under a plan put in place by Gov. Kate Brown in 2020.

Brown used her executive powers to enact the rules after Republicans walked out of the Capitol to block legislation that would have curbed emissions. Brown’s order seeks to reduce emissions by 45% from 1990 levels by 2035, and by 80% from 1990 levels by 2050, by capping emissions from vehicles and from heavy industry.

The petitioners include Oregon Business & Industry, Space Age Fuel, the Northwest Pulp & Paper Association, and the Oregon Association of Nurseries.

NW Natural, Avista and Cascade Natural Gas filed a similar petition at the same time.

“Oregon law is clear that DEQ does not have authority to implement the policies they implemented in December,” says Angela Wilhelms, president of Oregon Business & Industry, a trade group. “We felt it was important to challenge that action because of the dangerous precedent it sets. The Oregon Legislature has not given the DEQ authority to write rules in this space.”

The group pointed to a passage in Oregon statute covering the regulation of greenhouse gases that says: “This section does not create any additional regulatory authority for an agency of the executive department.”

The new climate rules went into effect Jan. 1. They impose caps on emissions from natural gas, oil and gasoline. The caps lower over time, putting more pressure on fuel suppliers to cut emissions.

A spokesman for the governor’s office didn’t immediately return a call and email seeking comment.