States and environmentalists take next step in CO2 lawsuit

by William Yeatman on June 22, 2004

in Politics

Eleven States and 14 environmental pressure groups filed a legal brief on June 22 as part of a lawsuit that argues that the Clean Air Act gives the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles. 

These States and groups are unhappy with EPAs rejection of a petition from the International Center for Technology Assessment that seeks to require EPA to regulate GHG emissions from new cars and trucks.  The attorneys for the plaintiff wrote, EPA’s conclusion that it lacks authority to set motor vehicle emission standards for greenhouse gases contravenes the [Clean Air] Act’s plain language.  They further argue that the Act gives EPA the authority to regulate any air pollutant that may adversely affect public health or welfare.

EPA has argued that even if the federal government did have the authority to impose regulations on cars and trucks, it would be the responsibility of the Department of Transportation.  However, the pro-federal regulation attorneys argue, There is no such conflict because Congress explicitly acknowledged that such statutory overlap would occur, and in this case compliance with any Clean Air Act emission standards would have no effect on automobile manufacturers ability to comply with [the Energy Policy and Conservation Act].

The oral arguments in the case are slated for next spring in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.  Among those suing the EPA are California, Massachusetts, Greenpeace, and the Sierra Club.  Arguments against the suit (largely accepted by EPA) have been led by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, along with the American Petroleum Institute, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, and the U. S. Chamber of Commerce.  (Greenwire, June 23)

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