States Sue the Federal Government To Control Greenhouse Emissions
The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 23, 2003
HARTFORD, Conn. -- A coalition of states, including Rhode Island, petitioned a federal appeals court Thursday in an effort to force the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
Eleven states, the District of Columbia and American Samoa claim the federal agency is required under the Clean Air Act to regulate gases such as carbon dioxide. "Because the United States is already dealing with the harmful effects of global warming, the American people want less talk and more action now," Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch said in a statement.
The EPA said in August that it lacked authority from Congress to regulate greenhouse gases. It also denied a petition to impose controls on vehicles' greenhouse-gas emissions, which are blamed for global warming.
Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas Reilly said gases are causing real environmental and health problems. "You're seeing the erosion of our beaches. You're seeing salt water contaminate our drinking water. You see damage to our infrastructure, to our roads and our causeways and our bridges," he said.
The attorneys general said the EPA has acknowledged in testimony to Congress in 1998, 1999 and 2000 that the Clean Air Act gives the agency power to regulate pollution that causes global warming. By refusing to regulate the greenhouse gases, the EPA is reversing the position it held
during the Clinton administration, they said."The vacuum of leadership on global warming by the Bush Administration is a betrayal of the best interests of the American people," New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said.
The states involved in Thursday's court action are Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. California is filing separately. More states are expected to join the petitions, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said.
John Millett, an EPA spokesman, said the agency isn't concerned about the number of states filing petitions. "It's a matter of law, not a matter of scope," he said.
North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said he was mulling coal industry requests that North Dakota lead a legal opposition to the lawsuit. North Dakota, where coal mining and electricity production are major industries, isn't among the 11 states.
The attorneys general representing the 11 states are Democrats. Mr. Stenehjem is a Republican.
The action, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, is the latest in a series of steps attempting to force regulation of greenhouse gases. Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maine also took the EPA to federal appeals court in September with similar claims. That effort was dropped to pursue the broader action, Mr. Blumenthal said.
Also Thursday, New York City and Philadelphia filed separate actions challenging the EPA's failure to regulate greenhouse gases. Fourteen environmental groups also filed court actions, the attorneys general said.
"This do-nothing approach of the administration is going to prove to be terribly harmful within our lifetimes, as well as harmful to our children," said Kevin Knobloch, incoming president of the Union of Concerned Scientists, one of the groups.
Copyright (C) 2003 Associated Press