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EPA sued over Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Cross-posted on Reuters

A suit against the Environmental Protection Agency has been filed in San Francisco's 9th Circuit Court after the EPA refused to grant California a waiver that would allow the state to establish its own auto emissions standard. As many as sixteen other states (Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Utah and Iowa) may join this latest suit in what has been a long series of legal actions to force the EPA to allow states tougher emissions standards than those dictated by federal law.
California sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday for denying its first-in-the-nation greenhouse gas limits on cars, trucks and SUVs, challenging the Bush administration's conclusion that states have no business setting emission standards. -snip-

In announcing his decision last month, [EPA Administrator] Johnson said the federal government was moving forward with a national solution and dismissed California's arguments that it faced unique threats from climate change. Link.

"There's absolutely no justification for the administrator's action. It's illegal, unconscionable and a gross dereliction of duty." California Attorney General Jerry Brown's statement.

"They [the EPA] are ignoring the will of millions of people who want their government to take action in the fight against global warming," California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's statement. "That's why, at the very first legal opportunity, we're suing to reverse the U.S. EPA's wrong decision."

"Today, there is simply no environmental issue more compelling or extraordinary than the increasing threat of climate change," from New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's statement. "Greenhouse gas emission standards for cars are a logical and necessary step to effectively combat global warming."

EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson's argument is that the new federal law, which has similar emission standards, but a longer time frame in which to implement them, is a more appropriate for those standards. California responded that their coastline vulnerability, their need for water, both for agriculture and to slow the decline of increasingly dry and burning forests, makes a resolution more pressing than is allowed by the slower federal pace.

The waiver, which is required by the Clean Air Act, is the first to be denied to California in the history of that act. This has led to calls for congressional investigation into the Bush Administration and auto maker's influence on the EPA's decision as the federal government works to have the new lawsuit transferred from the California 9th Circuit, which has been sympathetic to states issues in the past, to the Federal Appeals Court in Washington, D.C.

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Congressmen Henry Waxman (D-CA) have both stated they intend to call for hearings in their respective committees. Congress has also requested access to all EPA documents that lead to the denial of the waiver and records of the EPA's communications with the White House and the Bush Administration regarding the decision. The EPA has said they'd comply.

Attorney General Jerry Brown has predicted the case may end up with the Supreme Court.