California AG declares air pollution victory

Legal News Line Feb. 25, 2009, 1:54pm

Jerry Brown (D)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline) - California Attorney General Jerry Brown announced Wednesday that a coalition of 18 states and cities won a reversal of the Bush administrations air pollution standards.

"This dangerous air pollution causes thousands of premature deaths each year," Brown said. "Yet the Bush administration callously ignored the facts and put forward a standard justified by nothing more than junk science.Today, the D.C. Circuit Court cleared the way for the Obama administration to right this wrong."

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington sided with the coalition, ruling that the Environmental Protection Agency, during President George W. Bush's administration, acted illegally in issuing weak air pollution standards for soot. The court sent the issue back to the EPA under the Obama administration, ordering it to issue new tougher air-pollution standards.

Fine soot pollution from diesel vehicles and power plants is most prevalent in urban areas. Health reports claim fine soot can lodge deep in the lungs causing many health issues. The court ruled that the Bush administration did not take into account the sensitivity to air pollution of children, senior citizens and those with breathing and health concerns related to fine soot pollution.

The states, cities and other state agencies joining in the challenge that led to today's victory are: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Rhode Island, Vermont, the District of Columbia and the South Coast Air Quality Management District. The States of Arizona, Maryland and Massachusetts also joined as friends of the court.

This ruling is the latest in California's ongoing clash with the federal government over environmental standards. But it's also the latest that could bring immediate change now that the Obama administration, which is far more aligned with California than the previous administration, is in place.

In January, President Barack Obama directed the EPA to reconsider California's Clean Air Act waiver, which the state requested to remove the federal obstruction of its implementation of progressive global warming legislation.

At that time Brown called the move a historic first.

"(This) dramatic announcement by President Obama marks the first time that an American President has taken decisive action to deal with global warming," Brown said. "California welcomes President Obama's commitment to make cars cleaner, more efficient, and less dependent on foreign oil. What a difference from the dangerous paralysis of the Bush years."

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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
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