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For immediate release Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Contact Bob Brammer 515-281-6699

States Ask Court to Order EPA Action on Greenhouse Gases

States and environmental groups allege EPA ignores U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

Seventeen states including Iowa, and environmental advocacy groups are asking the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., to order the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to take action related to regulating greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles.

The petition asks the Court of Appeals to order the EPA to respond to a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling exactly one year ago that required the EPA to make a decision on whether to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles under the federal Clean Air Act. One year after the Supreme Court ruling on April 2, 2007, the EPA has not issued a decision.

“Our argument is that last year’s Supreme Court ruling required EPA to determine whether greenhouse gases are endangering public health or welfare,” said Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller. “If they are, then EPA should begin regulating the greenhouse gas emissions.”

The “petition for writ of mandamus” asserts that the EPA in fact already has publicly stated it believes that greenhouse gases are endangering public health or welfare, and that the EPA in fact has already prepared an endangerment determination. In December 2007, “EPA transmitted a fully-drafted Federal Register notice announcing the affirmative endangerment determination to the White House Office of Management and Budget where it now apparently sits,” the petition asserted, citing an investigation conducted by the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

The EPA has now declined to issue that proposed endangerment determination and is delaying its response to the Supreme Court ruling of last April, even though the Court ruled that the EPA has authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act and that EPA could not refuse to exercise that authority based on the agency’s policy preferences.

The petition also noted that, in other contexts, EPA has issued detailed findings about the widespread harms that greenhouse gases are causing. For example, the EPA Administrator has specifically found that “severe heat waves are projected to intensify in magnitude and duration over portions of the U.S. where these events already occur, with likely increases in mortality and morbidity, especially among the elderly, young, and frail.”

The petition also noted that on several occasions EPA promised it would respond to the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion by issuing an endangerment determination and draft motor vehicle emission standards by the end of last year.

The petition for mandamus asks the court to order the EPA to act within 60 days.

Iowa is an “amicus” or friend of the court in the petition, which was filed Wednesday by the seventeen state attorneys general, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the cities of New York and Baltimore, and numerous environmental advocacy groups.

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