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States sue White House over EPA ‘foot-dragging’

Eighteen states – including Washington – sued the Bush administration Wednesday, accusing the Environmental Protection Agency of “foot-dragging” to avoid regulating greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles.

A year ago, the states won a legal challenge in which the Supreme Court agreed that the EPA had the authority to limit carbon dioxide and other pollutants that cause global warming.

But the federal agency has not acted on the court’s ruling, instead saying it needs a lengthy period to collect public input before it proposes regulations.

Meanwhile, the EPA on Dec. 17 blocked the implementation of laws in numerous states to limit greenhouse gases from cars, with the agency saying climate change is a federal issue.

“The EPA’s failure to act in the face of these incontestable dangers is a shameful dereliction of duty,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, the lead plaintiff.

Jonathan Shradar, a spokesman for the EPA, said that his agency later this spring will notify the public of an “advance notice of proposed rule making” on greenhouse gases. That’s a process that allows up to 90 days of public comment before the agency sets a timetable for moving forward. The result likely will mean continued deliberation beyond the end of President Bush’s term.

The petition filed in U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia asks the court to require the EPA to act within 60 days.

Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler said the EPA received all the input it needed April 2, 2007, when the Supreme Court ruled that the federal agency should regulate greenhouse gases.

“I do think the culture of the EPA under the Bush administration has been to do everything they can to delay actually protecting the environment – which makes the EPA something of an oxymoron, at least in name,” Gansler said.


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