EPA Inaction on Greenhouse Gas Ruling Angers States

TRENTON, New Jersey, January 23, 2008 (ENS) – Attorney General Anne Milgram announced today that New Jersey has signed on to a multi-state letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency expressing concern that the EPA is “unreasonably delaying” action it was directed to take by the U.S. Supreme Court concerning regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles.

In addition to New Jersey, the letter to the EPA has been signed by 16 states – Massachusetts, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington state. The City of Baltimore and the City of New York have signed on as well.

Addressed to EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, the letter requests that EPA furnish specifics about how it intends to comply with the court mandate in writing by February 27, 2008.

The letter warns that further “unreasonable delay” will result in legal action to enforce the court’s directive.

The Supreme Court ruled last April that the EPA, despite its assertion to the contrary, has authority under the federal Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks. The court also found that the EPA used improper grounds to deny a rulemaking petition filed by the states that asked the agency to do so.

The court ordered the EPA to revisit the states’ rulemaking petition, to determine whether greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles cause harmful air pollution and, if so, to develop regulations governing such emissions.

“On April 2, 2007, the Supreme Court established EPA’s responsibility to regulate greenhouse gases under the federal Clean Air Act,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley. “The one year anniversary of the court’s ruling is fast approaching, and it is long past time for EPA to begin exercising its regulatory authority. Further continued delay is not acceptable.”

Exhaust from vehicles
contributes to climate change,
scientists warn. (Photo courtesy
Iowa DNR)

According to Milgram, EPA indicated on several occasions in 2007 that it was moving forward on the Supreme Court’s directive and that it intended to announce draft regulations for greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles by year’s end. Despite its commitment, which the EPA formalized in a regulatory plan published in December 2007, the EPA allowed 2007 to come and go without taking any action, and has provided no specific sense of when or how it intends to proceed.

“Despite a compelling body of scientific evidence concerning the relationship between air pollutants and global warming, and despite having been directed to act on the regulation of greenhouse gases by the U.S Supreme Court, the EPA continues to drag its feet,” said Milgram.

Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard stressed that the letter reminds Johnson, “The rulemaking petition at issue in Massachusetts v. EPA was filed in 1999, now almost a decade ago. EPA’s failure to exercise its clear authority under the Clean Air Act and to act on the petition constitutes an abdication of its regulatory responsibility.”

“The time for talk is over,” Milgram declared. “New Jersey has made a firm commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in order to protect our citizens and our natural resources. It is well past time for the federal government to make the same commitment by performing its statutory duty, as directed by the court.”

“Once again the federal government’s lack of action defies all logic and obfuscates justice by failing to protect public health,” said New Jersey DEP Commissioner Lisa Jackson. “In New Jersey, motor vehicles account for the largest portion of the state’s total greenhouse gas emissions.”

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