California Sues EPA to Spur Action on State's Auto Emissions Waiver Request

California has filed a suit against EPA to force the federal agency to take action on the state's request to curb greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles. The attorneys general of 14 other states filed a motion to intervene on behalf of California.

The lawsuit, filed on Nov. 8 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, charges EPA with an unreasonable delay in reaching a decision on California's law, known as the Pavley bill, which mandates strict reductions global warming emissions from vehicles.

"Despite the mounting dangers of global warming, EPA has delayed and ignored California's right to impose stricter environmental standards," state Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. told a news conference. "We have waited two years and the Supreme Court has ruled in our favor. What is EPA waiting for?"

Under the Clean Air Act, California can adopt environmental standards that are stricter than federal rules, if the state obtains a waiver from the federal agency, state officials said. After a California waiver request is granted, other states are permitted to adopt the same rules. In 2002, California passed AB 1493 which requires a 30-percent reduction in global warming emissions from vehicles by 2016, starting with model year 2009. In December 2005, the California Air Resources Board applied for a waiver to implement the law. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wrote to EPA in April 2006 and in October 2006, requesting action on California's application.

Sixteen other states -- Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont and Washington -- have adopted, or are in the process of adopting California's emissions standards.

California officials assert that EPA does not need any additional time to review the facts -- the California Air Resources Board submitted a detailed 251-page assessment in 2005 and the U.S. Supreme Court already issued a decision that EPA has the authority to regulate greenhouse gases (Massachusetts vs. EPA, No. 05-1120, April 2, 2007). On Sept. 12, a judge with the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont rejected automakers' claims that federal law preempts state rules and that technology can't be developed to meet regulations adopted by Vermont and California that establish greenhouse gas emissions standards for new automobiles (Green Mt. Chrysler Plymouth Dodge Jeep vs. Crombie, Case No. 2:05-cv-302, consolidated with Case No. 2:05-cv-304).

Officials with the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers stated that California's lawsuit is not helpful to the waiver process. "EPA must deliberately and thoroughly approach the questions raised by the waiver application, especially when that application does not show that the standards address a problem unique to California. EPA can and should take the appropriate time needed to properly analyze and respond to the waiver request," said Dave McCurdy, the alliance's president and CEO.

For more information, contact the California attorney general's office at

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