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States sue EPA over greenhouse gases


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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) -- Twelve states, including California and New York, filed petitions this week in federal court in a bid to force the Bush administration to regulate emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.

Several separate petitions were filed Thursday in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. asking it to review a decision by the federal Environmental Protection Agency that said it did not have the authority to regulate such emissions under the Clear Air Act.

The agency issued an opinion in August, in response to a petition backed by environmental groups, indicating it believed it did not have the authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the act.

"The U.S. EPA's decision that it has no authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, and that these emissions technically don't even count as air pollutants, is wrong, disturbing and dangerous to Californians' health, environment and economy," California Attorney General Bill Lockyer said.

California filed a petition on its own and 11 other states filed jointly -- New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and Rhode Island.

Three cities, Baltimore, New York and Philadelphia joined the action along with a coalition of environmental groups including the Sierra Club, the National Resources Defense Council and Friends of the Earth.

The current pollutants, designated as hazardous to human health and subject to EPA standards, are carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen oxides, ozone, particulate matter and sulfur oxides.

An EPA spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

"Put simply the Bush administration's decision is an illegal, irresponsible sell-out of the people's basic right to clean air,' said Joel Reynolds, a senior attorney with the NRDC based in Santa Monica, California.

Global warming is thought to be caused by the atmospheric build up of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. The burning of fossil fuels in cars and power plants is a major source of carbon dioxide emissions.

The White House has sought voluntary cutbacks in emissions, arguing mandatory reductions could hurt the U.S. economy.



Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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