Eighteen states, led by Massachusetts, filed a petition in federal court last month to pressure the US Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks – a move that could lead the automobile industry to produce cleaner-burning cars. The filing came on the first anniversary of a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that such greenhouse gases are pollutants, and was designed to highlight the lack of progress since then. It also came in the face of suggestions that the White House is stalling approval of a document that would declare these emissions are harmful to public health. Attorney General Martha Coakley of Massachusetts, which is leading the petition, said in a statement:
Once again the EPA has forced our hand, which has resulted in our taking this extraordinary measure to fight the dangers of climate change. The EPA’s failure to act in the face of these incontestable dangers is a shameful dereliction of duty.
The justices last year ordered the EPA to formally declare whether carbon dioxide and other global warming gases from motor vehicles could harm human health, and if so, to regulate them under the Clean Air Act. Specifically, the recently filed petition asks the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington to order the EPA to make that determination within 60 days. If the states are successful and the agency rules that the gases can harm human health, it could lead to requirements that vehicles emit fewer greenhouse gases. This could be accomplished by requiring new cars to get better gas mileage or encouraging consumers to buy smaller vehicles or hybrid cars.
The states want the federal government to act before President Bush leaves office. Scientific evidence is growing that the manmade release of heat-trapping gases from power plants, vehicles, and factories will lead to public health problems, such as more common heat waves and increased plant pollens that can aggravate allergies and asthma, yet the Bush Administration has repeatedly failed to regulate the gases. States and environmental organizations want greenhouse gas emission limits for power plants and factories in addition to vehicles.
Source: Boston Globe
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