Press Release

Baltimore, Maryland (November 8, 2007) The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and the Office of the Attorney General (AG) along with 12 other states moved to join two legal actions filed this morning by the State of California to force the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take action on California’s request for approval to regulate greenhouse gas in pollution from automobiles sold in the state. Maryland, as well as over a dozen other states, have adopted California’s regulations to combat global warming.

“The Maryland Clean Cars Act of 2007 requires MDE to adopt California’s emissions standards.” Said MDE Secretary Shari T. Wilson. “This program is a technologically sound, economically feasible important step we can take now to reduce emissions from cars.”

The federal Clean Air Act gives California the unique authority to set its own more stringent air pollutant regulations for cars and allows other states, like Maryland, to adopt California’s regulations rather that those set by the federal government. However, the federal Clean Air Act requires that EPA provide California with a waiver before these state regulations can be implemented. California adopted its “Regulation to Control Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Motor Vehicles” (GHG Greenhouse Gas Regulations) on August 4, 2005. This regulation requires reductions in fleet-average, greenhouse-gas emissions for most new passenger motor vehicles sold in California, beginning with the 2009 model year.

“In an effort to reduce harmful emissions and combat global warming, Maryland lawmakers passed the Clean Cars Act of 2007,” said Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler. “We are confident that the automobile industry can meet the more stringent requirements and the result will be cleaner air and reduced pollutants in the Chesapeake Bay. That’s why we are pushing for the EPA to act.”

On December 21, 2005, California requested a waiver from EPA to implement the GHG greenhouse gas regulations. Now, almost two years later, EPA has still failed to act on the request. This morning, California, arguing that the EPA has “unlawfully withheld and unreasonably delayed ” action on its waiver request, filed two legal actions against EPA seeking court orders requiring EPA to take action on the waiver petition by December 31, 2007. One lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and the second was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Attorney General Martha Coakley and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo today led 11 other states to move to intervene as plaintiffs in California’s lawsuits, adding important support to California’s efforts. Since California adopted its GHG greenhouse gas regulations for cars, 14 states have either adopted the California regulation or are in the process of adopting it: Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. The State of Maryland expects to have its regulation adopted by the end of December 2007. EPA’s delay in acting on California’s waiver request has stalled not only the implementation of California’s greenhouse gas regulations for cars, but all of the other states’ identical regulations. Maryland and the other states cannot enforce these regulations since, under the Clean Air Act, the Agency must first grant a waiver to California’s GHG regulation.

While the scientific support for global warming is overwhelming, and its environmental and economic threat is substantial, the Bush Administration has resisted regulatory approaches to controlling greenhouse gases. In April, the US Supreme court made a landmark ruling against the Administration, deciding that EPA had the authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, as air pollutants. This decision paved the way for states, like California and Maryland, to adopt regulations to control greenhouse gas in pollution from automobiles sold in their states.

Joining Maryland in today’s case are: Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maine, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, Illinois, Vermont, Arizona and Pennsylvania.