California Leads States Demanding EPA Tackle Global Warming

SACRAMENTO, California, December 4, 2008 (ENS) - California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. once again is urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to use its authority under the Clean Air Act to combat climate change.

With U.S. greenhouse gas emissions rising year after year, according to a report issued this week by the U.S. Energy Department, and with the UN's annual climate conference now taking place in Poland, Brown and other attorneys general say this is the time for the EPA to protect the climate.

"After eight years of foot-dragging, it is time for the EPA to reverse its shameful inaction on global warming and use its authority under the Clean Air Act to combat dangerous climate change," Brown said.

Brown joined with 13 other attorneys general; the California Air Resources Board and four other state environmental agencies; the cities of Minneapolis, Seattle and Salt Lake City; and the New York City Corporation Counsel in writing a letter to the federal agency that lays out key principles EPA should adhere to in regulating greenhouse gases.

Separately, Brown submitted a comment letter to EPA responding to the 500-page advance notice of rulemaking for regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act issued by EPA over the summer.

Both letters called on EPA to make a determination as to whether greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare - as required by the 2007 Supreme Court decision in Massachusetts v. EPA.

The letters requested that the EPA reverse the denial of California's preemption waiver for California's landmark greenhouse gas automobile regulations, allowing California and the 13 other states that have adopted these standards to begin immediately enforcing the regulations.


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The states of Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont and Washington joined California in writing to the federal agency.

They requested the EPA to adopt controls for large polluting sources such as coal-fired power plants, cement plants and refineries.

And they asked the EPA to adopt controls for cars, trucks, aircraft, ocean-going vessels, and non-road engines that are responsible for more than one-third of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.

"Technology to reduce emissions from these sources is available and cost-effective," Brown said.

In the joint letter to EPA, Brown and his co-authors wrote, "The Clean Air Act is one of our most successful regulatory programs. It has a proven track record of effectively dealing with complex air pollution problems that implicate a multitude of sources and a wide range of economic activities, and it has done so without harming the economy."

The attorneys general said in their letter that they "strongly disagree" with claims by departing EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson that the Clean Air Act is ill-suited to the task of regulating greenhouse gases.

As the analysis by EPA's professional staff in the advance notice of rulemaking points out, "the Clean Air Act provides EPA with flexibility to regulate through a variety of approaches, including performance standards, operational controls, market-based incentives and other measures, and also to tailor its traditional strategies to suit the particular challenges posed by GHG emissions," the attorneys general wrote.

But while the state attorneys general are critical of the EPA's approach to climate change, the agency said in a November 18 statement that it and the U.S. Energy Department "are helping states lead the way in an effort to promote low cost energy efficiency."

The remark came as the EPA introduced an updated version of the "National Action Plan Vision for 2025: A Framework for Change," produced by more than 60 energy, environmental and state policy leaders.

The updated action plan outlines strategies to help lower the growth in energy demand across the country by more than 50 percent, and shows ways to save more than $500 billion in net savings over the next 20 years.

"These actions may help to reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 90 million vehicles," the agency said.

"The significant action taken by states, utilities and energy customers advances low cost energy solutions," said Robert Meyers, principal deputy assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Air and Radiation. "The plan is a big step toward a more energy-efficient future, helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while growing the American economy."

The action plan contains data showing that states, utilities and other organizations are spending about $2 billion per year on energy efficiency programs. It shows that they have saved the energy equivalent of more than 30 power plants generating 500 megawatts of electricity and that they helped reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those emitted by nine million vehicles.

Initiated in 2005, the National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency is directed by a group of 30 electric and gas utilities, 20 state agencies and 12 other organizations. It is designed to help electric and natural gas ratepayers increase energy efficiency while saving money. Some of the same states are involved in this plan as signed the attorneys general's letter - California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York.

More than 120 organizations have endorsed the original recommendations of the national action plan and have committed to making it a reality.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.

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