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Rowe Joins California Lawsuit to Win Approval For Regulating Greenhouse Gas Emissions
November 9, 2007
Approval of California’s Controls Would Pave the Way for Similar Controls Maine and 13 Other States
Maine Attorney General Steve Rowe, along with 13 other Attorneys General moved to join two legal actions filed this morning by the State of California to force the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take action on California’s request for approval to regulate greenhouse gas pollution from automobiles sold in the state. Maine has adopted California’s regulations to combat global warming.
“Maine has adopted a policy designed to combat climate change by controlling greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles sold in this state.” Attorney General Rowe stated “The EPA must grant the waiver so we can enforce these laws and begin to reverse the effects of global warming.”
The federal Clean Air Act gives California the unique authority to set its own more stringent air pollutant regulations for cars and allows other states, like Maine, to adopt California’s regulations rather that those set by the federal government. However, the federal Clean Air Act requires that EPA provide California with a waiver before these state regulations can be implemented. California adopted its “Regulation to Control Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Motor Vehicles” (GHG “Greenhouse Gas Regulations) on August 4, 2005. This regulation requires reductions in fleet-average, greenhouse-gas emissions for most new passenger motor vehicles sold in California, beginning with the 2009 model year. Maine adopted the standards in 2005.
On December 21, 2005, California requested a waiver from EPA to implement the GHG greenhouse gas regulations. Now, almost two years later, EPA has still failed to act on the request. In two lawsuits, the states allege that the EPA “unlawfully withheld and unreasonably delayed” action on California’s waiver request. The states are asking the court to order the EPA to take action on the waiver petition by December 31, 2007. One lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and the second was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
“The Bush administration, through the policies of the EPA, has repeatedly demonstrated that it will ignore the problems of global warming until the states force them to act.” Rowe added “It is irresponsible for the federal government to ignore one of the most pressing issues of our time. But it is against the law for them to intentionally deny the states the powers granted to them in the Clean Air Act.”
Attorney General Rowe’s move to intervene, along with 13 other states, as a plaintiff in California’s lawsuits, adds important support to California’s efforts. Since California adopted its greenhouse gas regulations for cars, 14 states have either adopted the California regulation or are in the process of adopting it: Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. EPA’s delay in acting on California’s waiver request has stalled not only the implementation of California’s greenhouse gas regulations for cars, but of Maine’s and the other states’ identical regulations.
“We cannot enforce these regulations since, under the Clean Air Act, the Agency must first grant a waiver to California’s GHG regulation.” Rowe said.
While the scientific support for global warming is overwhelming, and its environmental and economic threat is substantial, the Bush Administration has resisted regulatory approaches to controlling greenhouse gases. In April, the US Supreme Court issued a landmark decision in which it rejected the Administration’s position that it was powerless to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and ruled that the Clean Air Act to authorized EPA to take action. Maine was one of the states that brought that case to the Supreme Court. The decision paved the way for Maine, to adopt regulations to control greenhouse gas pollution from automobiles sold in the states.
Joining Maine in the case are: Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, Illinois, Vermont, Arizona and Pennsylvania. Governor John E. Baldacci and Department of Environmental Protection David Littell commend the lawsuit and urge the EPA to take immediate action.
This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Jerry Reid, Chief of the Natural Resources Division in the Maine Office of the Attorney General.
David Loughran, Special Assistant to the Attorney General, (207) 626-8577