Schwarzenegger Warns of California Suit Against EPA
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger Wednesday threatened to sue the Environmental Protection Agency if it fails to act soon on a state bid to crack down on greenhouse gas emissions from cars.
"If we don't see quick action from the federal government, we will sue the EPA," Schwarzenegger, a Republican, told an audience at the Milken Institute's Global Conference in Beverly Hills.
Schwarzenegger's move stems from California's request in 2005 to get a federal Clean Air Act waiver that would allow it to regulate auto emissions more aggressively.
The Republican governor said the state Thursday will send a letter to EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson telling the agency of its plans to file legal action if the EPA does not act on the exemption request within six months.
Schwarzenegger said the U.S. government is moving too slowly on climate change issues, and states like California must lead the way.
"I think eventually the federal government will get the message," Schwarzenegger said.
HEARING SET FOR NEXT MONTH
EPA spokeswoman Jennifer Wood said the agency had been waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on a closely watched clean air case before moving forward.
The nation's highest court this month told the EPA to reconsider its 2003 refusal to regulate carbon dioxide and other emissions from new cars and trucks that contribute to climate change.
In a defeat for the Bush administration, it ruled that such greenhouse gases from motor vehicles fall within the law's definition of an air pollutant.
"(Johnson) said he would move forward following the Supreme Court decision, and that is exactly what he is doing," she told Reuters.
Johnson Tuesday signed a notice that sets a public hearing on the California waiver for May 22. The public can offer comment until June 15.
Meanwhile, some automakers have challenged California and the 11 other states that want to issue their own greenhouse gas measures, saying such rules could bankrupt them.
California and other states need EPA's permission to waive the existing law so they can require automakers to build cars and trucks that reduce emissions by 25 percent by the 2009 model year.
Sport utility vehicle emissions would have to fall 18 percent.
Last year California passed the most far-reaching greenhouse gas emissions reductions in the United States, saying the state will cut those global-warming gases to 1990 levels by 2020 -- or by 25 percent from current levels.