Saturday, April 05, 2008

States hoping to force action on emissions

Portland Press Herald

Maine is among 18 states taking the EPA to court over its failure to address a greenhouse gas ruling.

From staff and news services
April 3, 2008

Maine and 17 other states are taking the EPA back to court in an effort to force it to take regulatory action regarding greenhouse gas emissions.

The states announced plans to file a petition Wednesday, one year after the Supreme Court rebuked the Bush administration for inaction on global warming. The 5-4 ruling in favor of the states required the Environmental Protection Agency to decide whether to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide, from motor vehicles.

The EPA has done nothing, according to the plaintiffs.

"The Bush administration has ignored science, it has ignored policy makers, and now it is ignoring the Supreme Court of the United States. It is sad that the states must once again petition a court to force the EPA to deal with global warming." Maine Attorney General Steve Rowe said.

The petition asks the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to require the EPA to make a decision based on science within 60 days.

In last year's decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the EPA has the authority to regulate emissions from new cars and trucks under the Clean Air Act, and said the reasons the EPA gave for declining to do so were insufficient.

EPA spokesman Jonathan Shradar said the Supreme Court required the agency to evaluate how it would regulate greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles but set no deadline.

The EPA plans to include the evaluation in a broader look at how to best regulate all greenhouse gas emissions, not just those from vehicles, he said. Otherwise, a mishmash of laws and regulations could emerge rather than the "holistic" approach the administration favors.

"We want to set a good foundation to build a strong climate policy of potential regulation and laws we can work toward and actually see some success," Shradar said.

EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson said last week that the agency would conduct a public comment period as part of the review.

The plaintiffs in the latest court action are the attorneys general from Maine, Massachusetts, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia, plus representatives of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the cities of New York and Baltimore.

Several environmental organizations also are involved.

The Conservation Law Foundation, a New England group with offices in Brunswick, is a plaintiff. It issued a statement Wednesday saying that emissions from cars and trucks are the largest and fastest-growing source of global warming pollution in New England.

An effort by Maine and other states to set emissions standards for motor vehicles at the state level has been blocked by the EPA, but that also is headed to court.

Staff Writer John Richardson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2008 Blethen Maine Newspapers

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