Attorney General Brown Urges EPA to Address Global Warming Using Existing Clean Air Act Authority

Monday, December 1, 2008
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

SACRAMENTO– California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. has urged the Environmental Protection Agency to reverse years of “shameful inaction” on global warming by using its authority under the Clean Air Act to combat dangerous climate change.

“After 8 years of foot-dragging, it is time for the EPA to reverse its shameful inaction on global warming and use its authority under the Clean Air Act to combat dangerous climate change,” Brown said.

Attorney General Brown today urged EPA action in two ways:

• Brown joined with thirteen other Attorneys General; the California Air Resources Board and four other state environmental agencies; the cities of Minneapolis, Seattle & Salt Lake City; and the New York City Corporation Counsel in writing a letter to EPA that lays out key principles EPA should adhere to in regulating greenhouse gases.
• Separately, Brown submitted a comment letter to EPA responding to the 500-page advance notice of rulemaking for regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act issued by EPA over the summer.

Both letters called on EPA to do the following:

• Make a determination as to whether greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare -- as required by the 2007 Supreme Court decision in Massachusetts v. EPA;
• Reverse the denial of California’s preemption waiver for California’s landmark greenhouse gas automobile regulations, allowing California and the thirteen other states that have adopted these standards to begin immediately enforcing the regulations;
• Adopt controls for large polluting sources such as coal-fired power plants, cement plants and refineries;
• Adopt controls for cars, trucks, aircraft, ocean-going vessels, and non-road engines that are responsible for more than one-third of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. Technology to reduce emissions from these sources is available and cost-effective.

In the joint letter to EPA, Brown and his co-authors wrote:

“The Clean Air Act is one of our most successful regulatory programs. It has a proven track record of effectively dealing with complex air pollution problems that implicate a multitude of sources and a wide range of economic activities, and it has done so without harming the economy. We strongly disagree with the claims by the departing Administrator that the Clean Air Act is ‘ill-suited’ to the task of regulating greenhouse gases. As the analysis by EPA’s professional staff in the ANPR repeatedly points out, the Clean Air Act provides EPA with flexibility to regulate through a variety of approaches, including performance standards, operational controls, market-based incentives and other measures, and also to tailor its traditional strategies to suit the particular challenges posed by GHG emissions.”

Attorney General Brown has been a leader in the fight against global warming by testifying before Congress, filing numerous administrative and legal challenges, and speaking at conferences throughout the state.

The Attorney General has filed several petitions with EPA requesting that it regulate greenhouse gases from ocean-going vessels, aircraft, and non-road vehicles; filed comments urging that EPA regulate emissions from power plants and other large polluting sources; and sued the Department of Energy for failing to require updated efficiency standards for appliances and other equipment.

In California, the office has reached path-breaking settlements with San Bernardino County and the City of Stockton requiring them to adopt Climate Action Plans for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and has filed over 40 comments letters on local land-use projects under the California Environmental Quality Act.

For more information, see the Attorney General’s global warming webpage at

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