SACRAMENTO – California sued the federal government Wednesday in its ongoing bid to set the country’s first greenhouse gas limits on cars, trucks and SUVs, providing new data to show its program is superior to a federal plan.
The lawsuit filed in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals asks the federal Environmental Protection Agency to review its own decision last month to deny California a waiver it and 16 other states – including Washington – need to regulate greenhouse gases from new cars and trucks.
EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson said the federal government had a national plan to raise fuel economy standards and dismissed California’s arguments that it faced extraordinary threats from climate change.
“I think we are coming back strong not only with our legal case, but our technical justification,” California Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary Nichols told reporters in a conference call Wednesday.
Johnson said energy legislation signed by President Bush will raise fuel economy standards to an average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020, which he called a far more effective approach to reducing greenhouse gases than a patchwork of state regulations.
California’s more aggressive law would have required the auto industry to cut emissions by one-third in new vehicles by 2016, boosting efficiency to about 36.8 mpg.
Washington, along with other states, plans to intervene in the lawsuit in support of California.
“As I have said many times, Washington cannot wait for permission to do the right thing for our state’s environment and future generations,” said Gov. Chris Gregoire.
“It is our responsibility to challenge this ill-conceived decision by the Bush administration and move Washington towards a more sustainable future.”
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