California is at it again. The state stickler for clean air, which tried to regulate car emissions but was blocked by the federal EPA in late 2007, is now asking the feds to regulate pollution from aircraft, ships and off-road vehicles.
CA attorney Jerry Brown said that California, joined by other states and environmental groups, intends to sue the EPA if it continues to “wantonly ignore its duty” to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from these commercial vehicles and agricultural and commercial equipment.
“Ships, aircraft and industrial equipment burn huge quantities of fossil fuel and cause massive greenhouse gas pollution yet President Bush stalls with one bureaucratic dodge after another,” Attorney General Brown said in a news release this week.
The way California interprets the law: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is obliged to regulate greenhouse gases both under the Clean Air Act and under legal precedent set by a Massachusetts case. Brown has petitioned the EPA three times to begin regulatory action and the agency has responded with a preliminary notice that it is considering the issue.
The California news release calls the EPA’s response “pathetically weak” and serves notice that it will sue on ground the feds are delaying action on pollution that endangers the public. Under the law, the EPA has 180 days (about six months) to answer the petition.
Off-road vehicles (tractors, snowmobiles, riding lawn mowers), ships and aircraft emit greenhouse gases equivalent to those of 270 million cars, according to the California news release. The Attorney General’s office wants intervention to push airlines toward using cleaner fuels. Regulating the speed at which ships travel would reduce their pollution. Cruise and cargo ships account for about 3 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the news release.
The entities joining California in warning the EPA they intend to sue include Connecticut, Oregon, and New York City. The AP has reported that New Jersey and Pennsylvania have similar intentions.
Environmental groups, including Earthjustice and the Western Environmental Law Center, have filed a similar petition.
In 2007 the EPA blocked California and 16 other states from setting their own regulations for greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles, saying that the Congress had sufficiently addressed the issue with a law requiring better fuel efficiency. California is appealing that decision in court, citing its intent to enact stricter air quality regulations.
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