SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - California sued the federal government on Thursday to force a decision about whether the state can impose the nation's first greenhouse gas emission standards for cars and light trucks.
More than a dozen other states are poised to follow California's lead if it is granted the waiver from federal law, presenting a challenge to automakers who would have to adapt to a patchwork of regulations.
The state's lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., was expected after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vowed last spring to take legal action.
"Our future depends on us taking action on global warming right now," Schwarzenegger said during a news conference. "There's no legal basis for Washington to stand in our way."
At issue is California's nearly two-year-old request for a waiver under the federal Clean Air Act allowing it to implement a 2002 state anti-pollution law regulating greenhouse gases.
Eleven other states have adopted California's standard as a way to combat global warming and five others are considering it.
"Our position is that it's time for EPA to either act or get out of the way," said Lee Moore, a spokesman for New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram.
Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington plan to join California's lawsuit against the federal government, said Gareth Lacy, spokesman for California Attorney General Jerry Brown.
"The longer the delay in reducing these emissions, the more costly and harmful will be the impact on California," the state attorney general's office said in its 16-page complaint.
Schwarzenegger and other state officials say implementing the law is crucial in order to meet the provisions of a separate global warming law that passed law year. That law seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2020.
California asked the EPA to grant its waiver in December 2005. EPA administrator Stephen Johnson said last summer that he would make a decision by the end of this year.
Brown said the EPA simply was "sitting on its hands." "
Good for Arnold. This Federal Govt for the past 30 years has done NOTHING in this matter and good to see States taking action.