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Published October 23, 2007 09:23 PM

Fires Delays California Lawsuit on Car Emissions

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California delayed filing a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency until the following week due to devastating wildfires in the southern part of the state, a state official said.

In an effort to crack down on greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, California passed a state law in 2005 that would require new vehicles to meet progressively tighter standards for emissions starting with 2009 models.

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But the state, which has become a leader on environmental issues in the United States, needs a waiver from the federal government to implement the law and says it has run out of patience awaiting it. Schwarzenegger had set an October 22 deadline six months ago for a decision and threatened to sue if the EPA failed to act by then.

"Governor (Arnold) Schwarzenegger and I intend to postpone filing the lawsuit until next week so that all state and federal resources can remain focused on fighting these devastating wildfires," Mary Nichols, chair of the California Air Resources Board said in a statement.

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