Attorney General Lockyer Files Lawsuit Challenging EPA's Failure to Act on Global Warming

Thursday, April 27, 2006
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

(SACRAMENTO) - Attorney General Bill Lockyer today filed a lawsuit against the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to adopt strong emission standards to reduce air pollution from new power plants across the nation.

“Global warming is one of the biggest threats facing the planet. If we want to help safeguard the environment for future generations, we need to take every step we can now to reduce emissions that contribute to global warming,” said Lockyer. “The EPA should be acting on behalf of public health and the environment, not polluters.”

Lockyer was joined today by 10 state Attorneys General, the District of Columbia and the City of New York in filing a petition in federal appeals court for the District of Columbia Circuit. The petition asks the court to review the EPA’s recently issued rule governing pollution emissions from power plants.

The Clean Air Act requires that the EPA review and revise emission standards for new pollution sources every eight years to ensure that they protect public health and the environment. On February 27, 2006, EPA issued revised regulations in accordance with a court order. However, petitioners said the revised standards fail to regulate power plant emissions of carbon dioxide, the major contributor to global warming. They also said the revised standards for other air pollutants harmful to public health are unacceptably lax.

A growing body of evidence, including reports from the National Academy of Sciences, NASA and major universities, has found that increasing global temperatures will have dramatic effects in the United States, including rising sea levels, worsened air quality, water shortages and droughts, and increased intensity of hurricanes. Power plants are the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions responsible for increasing temperatures worldwide. According to current projections, dozens or even hundreds of new coal-fired plants will be built in the United States over the next 15 years. Under the current rule, these plants would face no requirement to control or reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Since the power plants have a life span of 40-60 years, the plants built in the near future will determine the level of our carbon emissions for generations.

Today’s petition follows a court ruling in a similar case challenging the EPA for failing to regulate global warming emissions in its standards for cars, light trucks and SUVs. The ruling, issued in July, 2005, was inconclusive in resolving the question of whether EPA may regulate global warming pollution under the Clean Air Act.

A coalition of environmental organizations, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and Environmental Defense, filed a related petition today.

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PDF icon Petition49.72 KB
PDF icon Petition49.72 KB