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Vermont Joins Lawsuit To Force EPA To Rule On California’s Greenhouse Gas Emission Standards For New Motor Vehicles

CONTACT: William H. Sorrell, Attorney General, (802) 828-0269

November 8, 2007 - Attorney General William H. Sorrell announced today that Vermont and 13 other States are seeking to join a lawsuit filed by the State of California to force the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take action on California’s request for approval of its greenhouse gas emission standards for new motor vehicles. Vermont, as well as over a dozen other states, have adopted or are in the process of adopting regulations identical to California’s in order to combat global warming. However, the states cannot enforce their regulations until EPA grants a waiver for California’s standards. Vermont successfully defended its regulations against a challenge by the auto industry in federal court in Burlington in September.

“I’m concerned that there has been more politics than science going on here. It’s too bad that this lawsuit is necessary to push EPA to do its job and rule on the California standards,” said Attorney General Sorrell.

The federal Clean Air Act gives California the unique authority to set its own more stringent emission standards for new motor vehicles and allows other states to adopt regulations identical to California’s, rather that those set by the federal government. California adopted its greenhouse gas emissions standards on August 4, 2005. The regulations require reductions in fleet-average greenhouse gas emissions for most new motor vehicles sold in California beginning with the 2009 model year. Fourteen other states have either adopted regulations identical to California’s standards or are now in the process of adopting them: Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

The Clean Air Act, however, requires that EPA provide California with a waiver before the regulations can be implemented in California and in other states. California requested a waiver from EPA on December 21, 2005, but EPA has yet to act on the request. Thus, EPA’s delay in ruling on California’s waiver request has stalled not only the implementation of the standards in California, but also in Vermont and in the rest of states that have adopted identical regulations.

In today’s lawsuit, California argues that the EPA has “unlawfully withheld and unreasonably delayed” action on its waiver request and seeks a court order requiring EPA to take action on the waiver application by December 31, 2007. One lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and the second was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Joining Vermont in today’s lawsuits are: Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, Maine, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, Illinois, Arizona, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania.

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