August 1, 2008
States to sue EPA on ship GHG emissions
California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. yesterday announced California's plan to sue the U.S. EPA for continuing to "wantonly ignore its duty" to regulate greenhouse gas pollution from ships, aircraft, and construction and agricultural equipment.
Other states, local governments and agencies joined California in the action, including Connecticut, Oregon, New York City, the California Air Resources Board and the South Coast Air Quality Management District. National environmental groups filing similar petitions include Earthjustice and the Western Environmental Law Center.
You can read the formal notice of intent to sue HERE
"Ships, aircraft and industrial equipment burn huge quantities of fossil fuel and cause massive greenhouse gas pollution yet President Bush stalls with one bureaucratic dodge after another," Attorney General Brown said. "Because Bush's Environmental Protection Agency continues to wantonly ignore its duty to regulate pollution, California is forced to seek judicial action."
Under federal law and the landmark Supreme Court decision Massachusetts v. EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency is authorized to regulate greenhouse gases from a wide range of vehicles including ocean-going vessels, aircraft and agricultural, construction and industrial equipment. Invoking such authority, Attorney General Brown formally petitioned the EPA--in October 2007, December 2007 and January 2008--to initiate appropriate regulatory action.
In the face of Brown's petitions, the EPA has done nothing but issue what Brown calls a "pathetically weak " Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking" on July 11, 2008. The EPA's proposal contains hundreds of pages of discussion and facts but never once states that greenhouse gases endanger public health or welfare--the legal foundation for fashioning regulations. Brown said that ignoring California's petitions violates the Clean Air Act which requires the agency to adopt standards for greenhouse gases.
Under the Clean Air Act, EPA is given 180 days to respond with appropriate regulation action. If the agency does not issue timely regulations for aircraft, ocean-going vessels and nonroad engines, California can and will sue the federal government for unreasonable delay. The lawsuit will be based on the following:
* EPA's failure to make explicit findings that industrial equipment, ships and aircraft emit greenhouse gas pollution that endangers public health or welfare
* EPA's failure to adopt timely regulations to control such emissions
President Bush blocked EPA's original plan to make a formal finding that greenhouse gases endanger public health or welfare. Recently, congressional investigations have found that White House staff signed off on EPA's "endangerment finding" in November 2007. Subsequently, White House officials told EPA to cancel the finding.
"If President Bush was serious about America's dangerous and growing foreign oil dependency, he would forthwith direct EPA to do its job and regulate greenhouse gases," Attorney General Brown said.
Nonroad engines, ships and aircrafts emit as much greenhouse gases as 270 million cars, more than the entire number of registered vehicles in the United States, asserts Brown.
According to Brown, the world's fleet of about 90,000 large ocean-going vessels,, emits approximately three percent of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions. Ocean-going vessels in total emit more CO2 emissions than any nation in the world except the U.S., Russia, China, Japan, India and Germany. These emissions are projected to increase nearly 75 percent during the next 20 years.
EPA's own recent proposal states that marine vessels that purchased fuel in the U.S. emitted 84.2 million metric tons of CO2 in 2006, or 3.9 percent of the total U.S. mobile source CO2 emissions.
The United Nations International Maritime Organization has authority under international treaties to establish pollution standards for vessels but has to date failed to adopt controls on greenhouse gas emissions. The IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee recently planned to inventory greenhouse gases by 2009 but made no commitment to regulate such emissions.
Brown says that ocean-going vessels have a right to innocent passage under international law but that right does not include polluting the air or water near in California.