Governor Edward G. Rendell said Wednesday that Pennsylvania is joining a multi-state lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with a goal of allowing states to better protect the health of residents.
California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. announced Wednesday that the state was suing the EPA for 'wrongfully and illegally' blocking the state's landmark tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions standards.
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 greenhouse gas 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.
'The denial letter was shocking in its incoherence and utter failure to provide legal justification for the administrator's unprecedented action,' California Attorney General Brown said. '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.'
Under the Clean Air Act, passed by Congress in 1963, California is expressly allowed to impose environmental regulations that are stricter than federal rules in recognition of the state's 'compelling and extraordinary conditions' which include unique topography, climate, and high number and concentration of vehicles.
The administrator stated in his decision that California did not need its tailpipe emissions standards to meet 'compelling and extraordinary conditions,' a finding which reversed decades of agency practice and ignored the dangerous consequences of global warming to the State of California.
Global warming threatens California's Sierra mountain snow pack, which provides the state with one-third of its drinking water. California also has approximately 1,000 miles of coastline and levees that are threatened by rising sea levels.
In a press release given shortly after Brown's announcement, Penn. Gov. Rendell said, 'The EPA wrongfully and illegally blocked our efforts to do something about climate change - all they should have done was step aside and let the states take the lead.'
Cars generate 20 percent of all man-made carbon dioxide emissions in the United States, Gov. Rendell noted. 'At least 25 percent of greenhouse gases in Pennsylvania can be attributed to transportation,' he said.
Pennsylvania has adopted the stricter California emission rules, but will not realize greenhouse gas reductions from the rules unless the Golden State is permitted to enforce that portion of its clean vehicle program. New cars and light trucks starting with model year 2008 that are sold, titled and registered in Pennsylvania must be certified by the California Air Resources Board.
'This issue presents an opportunity for the federal government to combat climate change that threatens all life on Earth,' said Governor Rendell. 'Our planet's basic life support systems are imperiled and we need to take action. We are proud to stand with California and fight this unlawful decision by the EPA that will hamper the commonwealth's ability to battle global warming.'
In April, the U.S. Supreme Court made a landmark ruling, deciding that the EPA has the authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide as air pollutants. This decision paved the way for states to adopt regulations controlling greenhouse gas pollutants from automobiles sold within its borders.
In addition to Pennsylvania and California, other states intervening in the suit are: Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.