Wildfires Prompt California to Postpone Lawsuit Against EPA
SACRAMENTO --- Southern California's wildfires have prompted state officials to postpone filing their planned lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency.
However, California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols said last week that once the wildfires are fully under control, the state will proceed with its lawsuit alleging that the EPA has deliberately stalled making a decision on whether California can implement stricter emission guidelines for cars.
In 2002, California legislators passed a bill requiring the California Air Resources Board to adopt regulations reducing greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles. In 2005, the board adopted stricter regulations set to go into effect in 2009. However, those regulations can't be enforced without the EPA's permission.
The lawsuit comes nearly two years after California first asked the EPA to let the state impose those tighter emission regulations affecting cars, pickup trucks and SUVs. California State Attorney General Jerry Brown has called the EPA's lack of action an "unreasonable delay."
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in April warned the EPA that the state would sue if the agency failed to act within six months.
Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Washington have expressed plans to join California's lawsuit against the EPA.
Since 1988, when the California Clean Air Act passed, the state has been free to enact its own air pollution regulations, as long as the EPA granted permission through a waiver. Then, other states can follow either the federal rules or California's rules if they are stricter. Since 1988, California has had 50 such waivers approved.
Eleven other states have indicated they are ready to implement California's newest emission standards if the EPA grants the required waiver. According to the Los Angeles Newspaper Group, these states are Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. The governors of Arizona, Florida and New Mexico have also committed their states to adopting the California standards if the EPA issues the waiver.