Thursday, January 03, 2008

CA, Enviros & Other States Sue EPA On Waiver Request

Jan 2: As promised, California Attorney General Edmund Brown Jr., on behalf of the State of California, filed its lawsuit against U.S. EPA for “wrongfully and illegally” blocking the State's landmark tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) standards [See WIMS 1/2/08]. Brown filed the lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit to challenge the EPA’s denial of California's request to implement its emissions law -- which requires a 30 percent reduction in motor vehicle GHG emissions by 2016. California's new standards require Federal approval in the form of a waiver from the EPA. EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson denied California's request on December 19, 2007 in a letter to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Simultaneously, five nonprofit groups also filed a lawsuit challenging the EPA decision to deny California's request to implement its law limiting GHG emissions from new automobiles. The petitioners -- the Conservation Law Foundation, Environmental Defense, International Center for Technology Assessment, Natural Resources Defense Counsel (NRDC) and the Sierra Club -- also filed their suit in the Court of Appeals Ninth Circuit in San Francisco. It is expected that 15 states will also file a motion to intervene in support of California.

In a release, Attorney General Brown said, “The denial letter [form U.S. EPA] was shocking in its incoherence and utter failure to provide legal justification for the administrator's unprecedented action. 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 sixteen states have moved to adopt them.” Brown indicated that fifteen other states or state agencies -- Massachusetts, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington -- are joining the lawsuit as interveners.

Jim Tripp, general counsel of Environmental Defense said, “While global warming marches onward, EPA continues to drag its feet. The agency’s decision defies the law, the science and the will of states representing nearly half of the U.S. population. The Administrator’s denial of California’s request relies on a flawed argument that the federal courts already have rejected. We’ve won before in the federal courts, so we expect to win again this time too."

On December 19, 2007, the day of the EPA decision, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AAM) president and CEO Dave McCurdy issued a statement saying, "Automakers acted in good faith when working with Congress and the administration to develop the tough new national fuel economy law for the next 12 years and beyond. By denying this waiver, EPA has not wavered in preserving a national program that raises fuel economy while reducing carbon dioxide. We commend EPA for protecting a national, 50-state program.

"Enhancing energy security and improving fuel economy are priorities to all automakers, but a patchwork quilt of inconsistent and competing fuel economy programs at the state level would only have created confusion, inefficiency, and uncertainty for automakers and consumers. Under the new national fuel economy law, automakers will make dramatic, 30-percent reductions in carbon dioxide. In fact, automakers are the first manufacturing industry to step forward and agree to make major carbon dioxide reductions, and we expect others to follow. The new fuel economy law represents an early milestone in the road map laid out in Bali, so automakers are now in step with others around the world trying to address climate change."

Access a release from the CA AG Brown including links to the EPA rejection letter and the State’s lawsuit challenging the denial (
click here). Access a release from Environmental Defense (click here). Access the enviros' lawsuit (click here). Access the AAM statement (click here). [*Climate, *Energy]