California suing EPA over greenhouse gas rules

California has filed a lawsuit against the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Paula Dittrick
Senior Staff Writer

HOUSTON, Jan. 2 -- California has filed a lawsuit against the US Environmental Protection Agency. The anticipated action comes after the EPA last month denied California a waiver that the state requested under the US Clean Air Act.

The requested waiver would have allowed California to impose tougher standards on motor vehicles' emissions than federal regulations require (OGJ, June 25, 2007, p. 31).

More than 12 other states are expected to join California's suit against EPA. These states have adopted the California emissions standards for GHG emissions from new cars and trucks.

California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown called a news conference, saying the lawsuit was filed on Jan. 2 in the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. He expects that the federal government will try to have the case transferred to an appeals court in Washington, DC.

Brown suggested EPA's decision was made after "White House pressure, automobile influence, or some other lobbying pressure."

The vehicle regulations are part of California's global warming law that seeks to reduce GHG emissions statewide by 25%, or to 1990 levels, by 2020.

"We understand this is a long fight that may go to the Supreme Court," Brown said. "We feel this is going to be a struggle."

EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson denied the waiver for California, saying the US government is working on a national standard.

The denial prompted criticism from California congressional members. Sen. Barbara Boxer and Rep. Henry Waxman, both Democrats chairing committees that oversee EPA, said the agency ignored the legal requirements in the Clean Air Act.

Previously, EPA said it would turn over documents about its denial of the California waiver request to congressional committees that have indicated hearings might be scheduled regarding the issue.

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