California to sue EPA on greenhouse gas emissions

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - California will sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for “wantonly” ignoring its duty to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from ships, aircraft, and construction and agricultural equipment, state Attorney General Jerry Brown said on Wednesday.

A commercial flight lands on the Miami's international airport, Florida July 1, 2008. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Brown said the lawsuit, to be announced at a news conference at the Port of Long Beach on Thursday and filed in Washington after a 180-day waiting period mandated by the Clean Air Act, was meant to force the EPA into action.

The lawsuit follows two similar ones this year by California in conjunction with other states on car and truck emissions and ozone pollution.

“Ships, aircraft and industrial equipment burn huge quantities of fossil fuel, causing greenhouse gas pollution, yet President (George W.) Bush stalls with one bureaucratic dodge after another,” said Brown, a strong advocate for the environment since his two terms as a liberal California governor in the 1970s and 1980s.

“Because Bush’s Environmental Protection Agency continues to wantonly ignore its duty to regulate pollution, California is forced to seek judicial action,” he said.

Brown said he was filing the lawsuit because he had petitioned the EPA three times to implement such regulations and was met only with a “pathetically weak” proposal that did not conclude greenhouse gases endangered public health.

An EPA spokesman disagreed, saying the agency had been “fully responsive” to California’s petitions and said Brown would be better served lobbying the Democratic-led U.S. Congress to take action.


“(The lawsuit) is certainly typical of the attorney general of California,” EPA spokesman Jonathan Shradar said.

“If they don’t like how we make a decision on something, they sue and hope the courts will mandate toward their position. It works sometimes and sometimes it doesn’t work,” he said.

In April, California, with the support of Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, was one of 18 states to sue the EPA for failing to limit greenhouse gas emissions from new cars and trucks despite a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court a year earlier that the agency had the power to do so.

In May, California joined 12 other states in suing the EPA, claiming it violated the Clean Air Act by not toughening ozone pollution standards enough.

The EPA has also come under fire from Democrats in Congress.

Earlier this week, three Democratic senators, including California’s Barbara Boxer, called for the resignation of EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, saying he had sided with polluters instead of fighting global warming and other ecological problems.

Brown said California would likely be joined in the latest lawsuit against the EPA by Connecticut, Oregon, New York City, the California Air Resources Board, the South Coast Air Quality Management District and an a coalition of environmental groups.

Editing by Mary Milliken; Editing by Peter Cooney