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Environmental Defense Fund: EPA Defies Supreme Court on Climate Change

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 2, 2008
1:32 PM

CONTACT: Environmental Defense Fund
Tony Kreindler – 202-572-3378 or 202-210-5791 (cell) or akreindler@edf.org
Vickie Patton – (720) 837-6239-c or vpatton@edf.org

 
EPA Defies Supreme Court on Climate Change
States and Conservation Groups File Suit
 

WASHINGTON, DC - April 2 - Today a dozen states and eleven non-profit organizations filed suit to require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to comply with a Supreme Court ruling on the regulation of global warming pollution. The suit comes a year after the Court ruled that the EPA has the authority under existing law to regulate greenhouse gases and a week after the head of the EPA recanted his repeated commitment to respond to the decision on a firm and prompt time table.

The legal action asks a federal court in Washington, D.C. to direct the EPA to issue its determination whether global warming pollution endangers public health or welfare within 60 days. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is leading this new legal effort.

“The EPA is defying the Supreme Court and endangering our economy, our environment, and our health,” said Environmental Defense Fund Deputy General Counsel Vickie Patton. “The law and the science are clear: The EPA must act now.” Environmental Defense Fund is a party to the suit.

The petitioning states are: Massachusetts, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Arizona, Delaware, Iowa, Maryland and Minnesota. Three cities also joined the suit.

Background on the Issue

Supreme Court Decision and EPA’s Broken Commitment to Respond

On April 2, 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the EPA's refusal to address global warming pollution under the Clean Air Act, finding that the statute clearly empowered EPA to address greenhouse gas emissions. In an opinion written by Justice John Paul Stevens, the High Court instructed EPA to determine whether global warming pollution endangers human health or welfare and, if so, to establish greenhouse gas emission standards for motor vehicles.

In the immediate aftermath of the Supreme Court decision, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson repeatedly enunciated a public commitment to determine whether global warming pollution endangers human health or welfare and, if so, to issue proposed greenhouse emission standards for motor vehicles by the end of 2007 and final standards by the end of 2008. For example, EPA Administrator Johnson reasserted his firm commitment to act before a November 8, 2007 House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing: "The EPA plans to address the issue of endangerment when we propose regulations on greenhouse gas emissions for motor vehicles and fuels later this year." "EPA is firmly committed to addressing the long-term challenge of global climate change."

On March 12th, Congressman Henry Waxman (CA) released the results of transcribed interviews with senior EPA staff on the status of EPA's response to the Supreme Court's decision. The interviews revealed that some 60 to 70 EPA officials were working on the endangerment determination and proposed greenhouse gas motor vehicle regulations. Work was completed on both. Administrator Johnson had approved an affirmative endangerment determination and the documents were transmitted to the White House in December.

But only a few days ago, on March 27th, the EPA Administrator effectively recanted his public statements, and informed Congressional leaders that EPA will take no meaningful regulatory action in response to the high Court. The Supreme Court could not have been more clear in compelling EPA to base its decision on science and the law and rejecting EPA's "laundry list" of reasons for inaction. Nearly one year ago, the Supreme Court wrote: "EPA has refused to comply with this clear statutory command. Instead, it has offered a laundry list of reasons not to regulate."

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About Environmental Defense Fund Environmental Defense Fund is at the forefront of an innovation revolution, developing new solutions that protect the natural world while growing the economy. Founded in 1967 and representing more than 500,000 members, the group creates powerful economic incentives by working with market leaders and relying on rigorous science. For more information, visit edf.org.

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