18 States Urge EPA to Act on Global Warming

On Feb. 5, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley lead an 18-state coalition, the Corporation Counsel for the City of New York, and the City Solicitor of Baltimore, urging U.S. Environmental Protection Administrator Lisa Jackson to act in response to the 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Massachusetts v. EPA.

"On April 2, 2007, the Supreme Court established the EPA's responsibility to regulate greenhouse gases under the federal Clean Air Act. With the change in administrations, we are extremely hopeful that the EPA will finally start to do its job under the statute," Coakley said. "The second anniversary of the Court's ruling is now on the horizon, and we are today urging Administrator Jackson to issue as quickly as possible a determination that greenhouse gases are endangering public health and welfare."

In Massachusetts v. EPA, the Supreme Court ruled that -- contrary to the agency's claim -- EPA has the authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. The court also held that the agency could not refuse to use that authority based on the agency's policy preferences. Instead, the EPA would have to decide, based on the science, whether it believed that greenhouse gas emissions were posing dangers to public health or welfare. If the agency determined that endangerment was occurring, the agency would have to start the process of setting emission standards for greenhouse gases. In late 2007, EPA officials sent a proposed endangerment determination to the White House as an e-mail attachment, but White House officials refused to open the document, and former EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson refused repeated requests to make the document public.

The following states signed on to the letter: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. All of these states, together with the city of New York, and the Mayor and City Council for Baltimore, joined a petition last year seeking to compel EPA to act under the Supreme Court's ruling.

A copy of the letter can be found at http://www.mass.gov/Cago/docs/press/2009_02_05_mass_epa_letter_attachment1.pdf.

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