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States Line Up To Sue EPA Over Emissions Waiver Rejection

Yesterday, the EPA ruled on California’s waiver request by handing automakers a victory and denying California the right to set its own tougher-than-federal vehicle emission standards. At the time, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vowed to sue in order to overturn the ruling. He reiterated that position today, saying that the state would sue within the next three weeks.

Governors from some of the states that have adopted, or are in the process of adopting, California’s strict automobile emissions standards – Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont and Washington – have stepped forward to announce that they will join California’s legal battle.

Governor Chris Gregoire today announced that Washington state would seek legal action against the federal government over clean air laws.

“I am absolutely stunned,” New Jersey’s environment commissioner, Lisa Jackson, said, referring to the EPA’s late Wednesday decision. “When it comes to the auto industry, the EPA apparently is the Emissions Permissions Agency.” Jackson said New Jersey would join California’s lawsuit.

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley vowed Thursday to “take advantage of every legal option available” to battle the decision. O’Malley criticized the Bush administration for “bowing down to corporate interests.”

Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrell said the Bush administration has given the auto industry a huge undeserved gift by refusing to give California the waiver. Sorrell and Governor Jim Douglas said they are considering an appeal or lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency to allow Vermont and other states to set their own greenhouse gas limits on vehicles.

In New York, Governor Eliot Spitzer called the EPA’s decision “incomprehensible” considering current climate change issues.

“This is not the last word on this crucial issue. We will be suing,” said Judith Enck, deputy environmental secretary to Gov. Eliot Spitzer. “We need every tool we can get to combat global warming.”

It’s not just states getting involved. The chairman of the U.S. House Oversight Committee, U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., launched a probe today into the EPA’s decision and ordered the agency to turn over documents by next month.

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