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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

California Sues the EPA

Air Date: Week of

Attorney General Jerry Brown (Courtesy of the State of California office of the Attorney General)

The war between the states that want to tackle greenhouse gases from cars on one hand, and the federal government on the other, has never been hotter, reports Living on Earth’s Ingrid Lobet.


CURWOOD: Many states have decided not to wait for the federal government to act on global warming, regardless of who is president. And when it comes to cars, the federal government has opposed state regulation efforts at just about every turn. Over the holidays, it denied trailblazer California the right to regulate greenhouse gases from cars, and said only the Feds can set those rules.

Now the states, led by California, are fighting back in the courts. Living On Earth's Ingrid Lobet reports.

LOBET: Dozens of engineers and air pollution scientists in Sacramento have been working for three years to determine the best ways for automakers to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in time for the 2009 models, which will be in showrooms in just a few months.

But on December 21st the federal government told California to abandon these efforts. EPA chief Stephen Johnson said California’s traditional right to set its own air pollution policy does not extend to greenhouse gases because global warming is no more a problem for California than anywhere else. Johnson also argued that since President Bush had just signed new fuel efficiency standards into law, California’s effort was effectively superceded.

California Attorney General Jerry Brown (Courtesy of the State of California office of the Attorney General)

In response California Attorney General Jerry Brown—joined by 15 other states—announced he was suing EPA.

BROWN: The dereliction of duty that is implied by the environmental guardian of America—the administrator of EPA—turning down Calfornia’s very viable plan to curb greenhouse gases, when the EPA itself has no plan of its own. It is shocking, it is unexpected. And not only are we suing Mr. Johnson and the EPA, but I’m going to pursue this until we get the truth of what’s behind it.

LOBET: Technical teams in Sacramento worked over the holidays to rebut the contention that California’s efforts were unnecessary. Their new analysis shows California’s approach would remove more than twice as many tons of greenhouse gases as the federal government’s new 35 mile-per-gallon rules.

Recent legal opinions support the right of California and other states to regulate greenhouse gases this way. But the issue is really time. As these state continue to battle the federal government and the automakers, it becomes increasingly difficult to get the required changes into next year’s automobiles.

For Living on Earth, I’m Ingrid Lobet in Los Angeles.



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