From: , Oceana, More from this Affiliate
Published August 4, 2008 11:26 AM

Conservation Coalition and States Will Sue EPA to Reduce Global Warming Pollution from Ships and Planes

Washington, D.C. -- A coalition of conservation groups and state attorneys general filed formal letters warning of impending lawsuits over the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's failure to address global warming pollution from ocean-going ships and aircraft.  The conservation groups' notice of intent to sue was filed by Earthjustice on behalf of Oceana, Friends of the Earth and the Center for Biological Diversity.

Eight state and local jurisdictions filed similar notices today, formally declaring their intent to sue the EPA for unreasonable delay. The filers included the states of California, Connecticut, New Jersey, Oregon, the City of New York, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, California Air Resources Board and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. 

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The coalition filed petitions to the EPA in October and December 2007, requesting that it determine whether greenhouse gas emissions from marine vessels and aircraft endanger public health and welfare, and if so, to issue regulations to control greenhouse gas emissions from these sources. The coalition asked for a response within 180 days but none was received during that period.

Instead, EPA delayed its legal obligations by issuing an "Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking" (known as an ANPR) on July 11, 2008. The ANPR does not make a finding as to whether EPA intends to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, as the Supreme Court determined it was required to do, or draw any conclusions about how to protect public health and welfare from global warming pollutants.  Instead, the ANPR compiles comments from other government agencies on the subject of regulating greenhouse gas emissions, reviews provisions of the Clean Air Act, and raises numerous issues regarding potential regulations.  In hundreds of pages, the ANPR avoids answering key relevant questions:  whether greenhouse gases endanger public health or welfare, and if so, how and when it will take action.

"More than 15 months after the Supreme Court's order, EPA, once again, has ignored its legal - and moral - obligation to act quickly to protect the health and welfare of Americans. The Bush administration is wasting precious time with continued foot-dragging - time that we don't have. We have gone to court to force action by this or the next administration," said Martin Wagner of Earthjustice, who is representing the coalition.

"Scientists are reporting that global climate change is damaging our oceans and our daily lives, even more rapidly than forecast," said Dr. Michael Hirshfield, Oceana's chief scientist and senior vice president for North America. "Does the EPA think climate change will go away by itself? ”˜We'll think about it tomorrow' is an unconscionable conclusion for an agency whose mission is to protect the environment," added Hirshfield.

The conservation groups also released a report today entitled Shipping Impacts on Climate: A Source with Solutions.  The report analyzes the large impacts of shipping on climate change and discusses solutions.  It is available at www.oceana.org/shipping-impacts.

"The latest Bush administration tactic on global warming seems to be ”˜if you can't beat them, delay them,'" said Danielle Fugere, Western Regional Program Director for Friends of the Earth.  "Instead of taking action on global warming pollution from shipping and aviation -- two of the fastest growing sources of carbon dioxide emissions worldwide -- EPA is yet again putting the brakes on developing innovative global warming solutions."

"If we're going to slow the melting of the Arctic and save not only the polar bear but thousands of species around the world, we need to implement highly effective existing environmental laws like the Clean Air Act," said Kassie Siegel, Climate Program Director for the Center for Biological Diversity. "Regulating greenhouse pollution from ships and aircraft under the Clean Air Act is a necessary first step towards solving the climate crisis."

More information available at Oceana.

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