Attorney General Reilly: Govornment must act on Climate Change
Climate Change (Global Warming)
Attorney General Reilly is a leading advocate in the nationwide fight to push the federal government to seriously address the real and growing problem of global warming. In July of 2002, Attorney General Reilly led a coalition of 11 states that called on President Bush to adopt a federal policy to regulate so called “greenhouse gases.” The burning of fossil fuels releases greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide, into the air. The build up of these gases traps heat in the atmosphere and, as a result, is increasing the Earth’s surface air temperature and altering weather patterns worldwide. If greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced, the magnitude of the impacts of climate change to our citizen’s health and welfare, our beaches and other precious coastal resources, our forests and wildlife, our agricultural activities, and our state and local economies will become greater and more dire. The longer we wait to act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the worse the problem will become and the harder it will be to mitigate.
In June 2003, Attorney General Reilly filed a lawsuit (PDF file, HTML file), joined by Connecticut and Maine, which argued that by failing to regulate carbon dioxide – the dominant cause of global warming – EPA was violating its mandatory duty under Section 108 of the Clean Air Act. This “Section 108” lawsuit relied on EPA’s own prior official statements that carbon dioxide is an air pollutant subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act.
Read AG Reilly’s June 4, 2003 press release on the global warming suit brought against the EPA for failure to regulate CO2: Massachusetts, Connecticut and Maine Sue EPA on Global Warming
In August, 2003, shortly after Massachusetts, Connecticut and Maine brought the Section 108 lawsuit, EPA withdrew and reversed its earlier position that carbon dioxide is an air pollutant subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act. In contrast to its prior position, EPA concluded that it lacks legal authority to regulate greenhouse gases.
On the same day, EPA also denied a petition for a rulemaking that environmental groups filed in 1999 – on which EPA had not acted in 4 years. The petition requested that EPA regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases emitted from new motor vehicles, concluding that it had a duty to do so under Section 202 of the Clean Air Act. EPA based its denial of this "202 Petition" primarily upon its newly-issued position that it lacked legal authority to regulate greenhouse gases.
Read AG Reilly’s August 28, 2003 press release: AG Reilly to Challenge EPA Ruling that Refuses to Regulate Greenhouse Gases From Cars
In October 2003, a coalition of 12 states, led by Massachusetts, along with three major cities and many environmental groups, filed appeals in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia challenging both of EPA’s August 2003 rulings: that it lacks authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act (PDF version (162 KB), HTML version) and the denial of the 1999 Section 202 Petition (PDF version (164 KB), HTML version). A number of industry groups and states have intervened in these appeals to support EPA’s position. All of these appeals have been consolidated and are currently pending before the US Court of Appeals in DC as Commonwealth of Massachusetts, et al . v. EPA. The parties’ briefs for these consolidated appeals will be filed with the Court in June 2004.
Read AG Reilly’s October 23, 2003 press release: States, Cities, Environmental Groups Sue on Global Warming, Challenge EPA's Refusal to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Pollution
Because EPA’s legal authority to regulate carbon dioxide was a threshold question in the Section 108 lawsuit, discussed above, we voluntarily dismissed that case in order to first challenge EPA’s about-face on this issue.