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California Preparing to Sue If EPA Blocks State's Efforts To Reduce Greenhouse Gases

Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Contact: (415) 703-5837, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

WASHINGTON – Charging the Bush Administration is “acting in collusion with the auto and oil industries,” California Attorney General Jerry Brown said California is preparing to sue the federal government if it blocks the state’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas-causing emissions from motor vehicles.

Addressing a U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hearing, Brown said federal law allows California to set vehicle emission standards tougher than federal regulations, and then allows other states to adopt the California standard.

“The California legislature passed a greenhouse law in 2002 requiring automakers to reduce vehicle global warming emissions 30 percent by 2016,” Brown explained. “There is no doubt that automobile manufacturers can meet that goal, and since the federal government does not want to seek such a reduction California intends to move forward.”

Brown said that 11 other states -- Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington -- have now adopted the California standard.

“Together we represent one-third of the population of the United States, and the people of our 12 states want to act now to combat global warming. We are not willing to wait while President Bush offers only rhetoric, excuses and delays. Suing the federal government is not our first choice, but we will have no choice if our legitimate efforts to protect our planet are blocked because of partisan political games in Washington.”

Brown pointed out that the states’ battle against global warming is a bi-partisan effort.

“Gov. Schwarzenegger supports our plans to sue EPA if we are not allowed to implement the California law. Protecting our planet is not a partisan issue, and the states now want to do what we can in the absence of federal action, and the EPA has no right to deny us the ability to move forward.”

Brown said the proposed California standards are the most comprehensive effort to combat global warming in U.S. history.

The California attorney general was also scheduled to testify Tuesday following his EPA testimony before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Brown said California filed its request for an EPA waiver, which in the past has always been routinely granted, in December 2005. Under the Clean Air Act, California can adopt stricter standards by requesting a waiver from EPA and such requests have been approved more than 50 times in the past. Approval of California’s waiver means the other states would get approval automatically.

Congress passed the Clean Air Act in 1963 and subsequent amendments in 1967, 1970 and 1977 expressly allowed California to impose stricter environmental regulations in recognition of the state’s “compelling and extraordinary conditions,” including topography, climate, high number and concentration of vehicles and its pioneering role in vehicle emissions regulation. Brown said Congress intended the state to continue its pioneering efforts at adopting stricter motor vehicle emissions standards, far more advanced than the federal rules.

“Our waiver request has been pending for a year and a half, which is an unreasonable delay,” Brown said. “Our patience is wearing thin. We watch the President and his EPA acting in collusion with the auto and oil industries, while we want to take reasonable, constructive steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We are now preparing to sue unless we receive our waiver within a short time.”

See the attached three documents for additional background.

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PDF icon 2007-05-21_EPATestimonyBackground.pdf57.98 KB

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