Wildfires will delay lawsuit filing against EPA until next week

| 10/24/2007

California Attorney General Jerry Brown says the state’s raging wildfires will delay him from filing a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency as planned this week.

Instead, Brown told The Associated Press, California will likely file the suit next week in federal court in Washington, DC. The lawsuit seeks to force the EPA to consider California’s request for an exemption that would let the state enact the first tailpipe emissions standard for cars and light trucks.

Because California had air quality laws before the enactment of the current federal Clear Air Act, California has special permission to enact tougher environmental standards than permitted by the federal government. A formality in the process is obtaining a waiver from EPA. That’s been requested but for two years, the EPA has not acted on the request.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has threatened to sue if EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson didn’t grant the state a waiver to enforce a 2005 law that would prompt greenhouse gas emissions cuts for 2009 and newer cars and light trucks.

Earlier this month, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer encouraged Californians to contact the EPA and urge Johnson to approve the waiver, saying the agency had never before not granted California a waiver request.

Boxer also noted the recent investigation by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-CA, that revealed U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Mary Peters participated in a lobbying effort to persuade the EPA to deny California’s waiver.

Other states can adopt California’s environmental laws, and a reported 15 states have adopted California’s greenhouse gas emissions law.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer