States Sue to Regulate Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Sixteen states are suing for the right to enact their own emissions standards.© Getty Images

California and 15 other states filed suit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week for denying its proposal to enact strict statewide limits on greenhouse gas emissions from cars, trucks and SUVs. Just two weeks earlier, the agency denied a request from California for a waiver from US law which mandates that pollution control is the domain of federal regulators.

"The EPA has done nothing at the national level to curb greenhouse gases and now it has wrongfully and illegally blocked California’s landmark tailpipe emissions standards, despite the fact that 16 states have moved to adopt them," Jerry Brown, California’s attorney general (and former Governor), told reporters.For its part, the Bush administration contends that states should not have the right to set greenhouse gas emission standards on their own, although California and other states have received EPA waivers in the past to regulate other pollutants. In rejecting the waiver request, EPA officials cited recently enacted federal legislation to boost automobile fuel efficiency and reduce emissions as sufficient. "We now have a more beneficial national approach to a national problem," the agency said in a prepared statement.California officials contend their proposed emissions cuts would be tougher than the standards recently passed in the nation’s omnibus energy bill. California wants the auto industry to produce vehicles that would get more than 40 miles per gallon on average by 2016, while the new federal law calls only for a 35 mpg average by 2020.

The lawsuit was filed in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, and the plaintiffs are predicting a quick decision in their favor. Besides California, the plaintiffs include Massachusetts, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

Sources: Planet Ark; MSNBC