Environmental Groups Put EPA on Notice Over California Clean Cars Waiver

May 22, 2007





Tony Kreindler, Environmental Defense, 202-572-3378 or 202-210-5791 (Cell)

Julia Bovey, NRDC, 202-289-2420 or 202-270-0768 (Cell)



(Washington – May 22, 2007) Environmental Defense and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) today filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to force a long-delayed ruling on California’s request to establish new tailpipe emissions standards for carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.


The groups join California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and California Attorney General Jerry Brown in promising legal action to force a decision if EPA fails to take prompt action.  The governor in April said he would give the agency 180 days to reach a final decision before filing a lawsuit.


California needs a waiver from EPA under the Clean Air Act to implement landmark emissions standards that would significantly reduce global warming pollution from motor vehicles over the next decade. Eleven other states have adopted the standards and await EPA’s decision.


EPA has been sitting on California’s request for a waiver since 2005. On April 2, 2007, the United States Supreme Court overturned EPA’s refusal to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles.  But instead of moving to swiftly approve the state programs to cut global warming pollution, President Bush last week directed EPA and other departments to come up with a new separate plan for addressing global warming pollution from the transportation sector by December 2008, a move that reflects further delay by EPA.


“EPA has been dragging its feet for 17 months and now plans to hold meetings for 17 more,” said Environmental Defense Senior Attorney Vickie Patton. “It’s time for this administration to give states the green light to fight global warming instead of burying their plans in bureaucracy.”


“The EPA has bottled up action in Washington, now it’s bottling up action in the states. The law is clear. The Supreme Court said so, and if it takes another judge to say so, that’s what will have to happen,” David Doniger, Policy Director of NRDC’s Climate Center said.


Environmental Defense and NRDC today sent a letter to the agency warning that they will file suit “to compel EPA’s unreasonably delayed and unlawfully withheld final action on California’s waiver request” if the agency does not make a decision within 180 days.


The filing comes on the day of EPA’s first public hearing on California’s waiver request. EPA plans to take public comment through June 15, but agency officials have refused to commit to a timeline for issuing a final decision.


California’s Clean Cars law (AB 1493), also known as “Pavley,” phases in reductions of global warming pollution beginning in model year 2009 and ultimately achieves a 30 percent decrease in fleetwide emissions. Passenger vehicles and light-duty trucks represent the largest sources of global warming pollution in California, and are responsible for approximately 40 percent of California’s total global warming emissions.


The eleven states that have adopted California’s Clean Cars law include Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Maryland.