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Obama draws praise from Democratic AGs over emissions standards

By Chris Rizo | Jan 27, 2009

Patrick Lynch (D-R.I.)

Jerry Brown (D-Calif.)

Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.)

Mike Cox (R-Mich.)

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - U.S. President Barack Obama's move to clear the way for states to regulate tailpipe emissions drew praise from several state attorneys general.

On Monday, the president ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider immediately a request by California to impose its own limits on greenhouse gas emissions.

"The federal government must work with, not against, states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," Obama said. "The days of Washington dragging its heels are over. My administration will not deny facts, we will be guided by them. We cannot afford to pass the buck."

Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch, a Democrat, praised Obama for changing the White House's approach to climate change policy.

"The swift and decisive action taken today by President Obama is a breath of fresh air -- literally -- for all who have been harmed by the Bush administration's disdain for and indifference to regulating greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to pollution, threaten public health, and increase the impacts of global warming," Lynch said.

The Bush administration had repeatedly denied California's preemption application to require a 30 percent cut in tailpipe emissions, such as carbon dioxide, by 2016.

Last year, California Attorney General Jerry Brown, a Democrat, filed suit against the EPA to force it to reconsider its denial.

"Today's dramatic announcement marks the first time that an American president has taken decisive action to deal with global warming," Brown said Monday.

Fourteen states -- including California -- and the District of Columbia have already adopted California's proposal. At least four other states have pledged to do so.

"Empowering Connecticut and other states to regulate and rein in tailpipe CO2 emissions will enable long overdue, desperately needed reductions," Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said.

"Global warming poses a grave threat to our environment, economy and human health. This action demonstrates that President Obama is determined to act decisively and swiftly against this long-festering and vitally important problem," Blumenthal, a Democrat, added.

Opposed to allowing states the option of tighter emissions standards is Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox.

"The auto industry is working hard to reform and retool. Allowing state-by-state fuel efficiency standards would be devastating to the auto industry," the Republican said.

"As an environmentalist, we need to be conscious of measures that will maintain a clean environment for our children. However, in order to address global greenhouse gas emissions, we need a national strategy, not a one-state or multistate solution," Cox said.

For its part, General Motors, one of Detroit's car makers, said in a statement that it is "working aggressively" to develop improved hybrids and electric cars to reduce greenhouse emissions.

The company urged policymakers to consider the economic effects of increased tailpipe emissions standards.

"We're ready to engage the Obama administration and Congress on policies that support meaningful and workable solutions and targets," the company said.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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