AGs write to encourage EPA

John O'Brien Jun. 24, 2009, 2:16pm


WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - Fourteen states submitted comments with the federal Environmental Protection Agency Wednesday, commending its recently proposed determination that greenhouse gas emissions endanger public health.

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley's office wrote the supportive comments in response to the EPA's April 24 decision, which would implement nationwide the stringent emissions requirements for which California Attorney General Jerry Brown has been fighting.

"We commend the EPA for issuing this historic proposal and encourage the agency to take action in the next few months consistent with these findings," Coakley said.

"In the face of the compelling body of scientific evidence supporting an endangerment finding, this long-overdue proposal constitutes a significant and meaningful first step towards regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act."

President Barack Obama is using California's standards as the basis for the first limit on greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles imposed by the Federal Government. For years, Brown and a group of attorneys general have been fighting automakers that argued the standards were preempted Environmental Protection Agency requirements.

"This is an historic agreement that will lead to a 30 percent reduction in motor vehicle greenhouse gas emissions nationwide," Brown said. "This agreement brings an end to a five-year legal battle. It means that automakers finally recognize that their future depends on making cleaner and more efficient vehicles."

Motor vehicles manufactured in the U.S. must reach a fleetwide standard of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016.

Brown had attempted to earn a waiver that allowed other states to adopt them, but auto makers argued that wasn't fair. The Bush Administration refused to grant it in 2007, and despite this 14 other states chose to abide by California's rules.

The issue came up in several courts, and Brown helped the states of Vermont, Rhode Island and New Mexico defend themselves.

The Center for Individual Freedom wants the public comment period on the proposed regulation extended from 60 to 120 days. It says its activists have sent 50,000 letters to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.

"If unelected bureaucrats at the EPA get their way, every sector of the U.S. economy could be blamed for a wide range of health problems," said Timothy Lee, CFIF's Director of Legal and Public Affairs.

"The new regulation would open a floodgate of unfair and costly litigation aimed at small businesses, farmers, public utilities and nearly every other sector of our economy. Opportunistic plaintiffs' lawyers would come out of the woodwork and pounce on the opportunity to pad their already deep pockets."

Joining the comments with Massachusetts were the states of Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington, as well as New York City.

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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
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