Vermont will challenge EPA on auto emissions rules

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(Host) Vermont will challenge an Environmental Protection Agency decision on auto emission standards. The EPA won’t let California impose tough new rules on tailpipe emissions. Vermont and other states wanted to piggyback onto those regulations.
VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) California was seeking a waiver from the EPA to allow the state to adopt tougher auto emission standards than those established by the federal government as a way to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The ruling has a direct impact on Vermont and 15 other states because they’ve all passed legislation adopting the so called California standards.

Attorney General Bill Sorrell says he’s very disappointed by the EPA’s rejection of the California waiver and Sorrell says Vermont will take legal action to challenge the Agency’s decision:

(Sorrell) "California, Vermont and my guess other states will file a lawsuit just as we’ve done about other EPA actions over the last few years. It’ll be filed in federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., and we’ll look to the courts again for relief that we can’t get from the administration.”

(Kinzel) Sorrell says he doesn’t believe the EPA decision was based on the scientific merits of the case.

(Sorrell) "The industry has huge influence in the White House and with the Bush EPA. We’ve gone through trial in Vermont on the facts and the science. And have been held up totally that the California standard makes sense, that it’s scientifically feasible to accomplish and that the environmental issues that the California standard is trying to address are real and it’s important to do this.”

(Kinzel) Governor Jim Douglas says the EPA decision is troubling.

(Douglas) "I think the EPA is out of touch with the mainstream thought of the American people, especially states like Vermont and California and others that are choosing to adopt more rigorous standards."

(Kinzel) Douglas says there are reports suggesting that a number of top ranking officials at EPA supported the California waiver and that Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson rejected these arguments for political reasons:

(Douglas) "Internal discussions at the EPA suggest that their lawyers believe that the Administrator’s decision was not well founded by the law…so I think it’s not unreasonable to think that there might have been some political influence."

Douglas says he plans to talk with the governors of the other states involved in this case to see if there’s interest in filing a joint lawsuit against the EPA.

For VPR News I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

AP Photo/Toby Talbot

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