Attorney General Cuomo Leads 18-state Coalition In Battle To Protect States' Right To Fight Global Warming

NEW YORK, NY (October 9, 2009) – Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that he is leading an 18-state coalition to defend a decision by President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that grants states the right to regulate global warming pollution from automobiles.  The coalition is opposing a lawsuit brought by the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that seeks to deny individual states the ability to limit greenhouse gas emissions from cars.

On June 13, 2009, the Obama EPA granted a Clean Air Act waiver to California, allowing it – and other states such as New York – to implement global warming pollution emission standards for cars.  This was a reversal of Bush Administration policy.  On September 8, NADA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce brought a lawsuit that challenges this waiver from the EPA. 

“Our opposition to this lawsuit is based on states rights – the right of New York and other states to take commonsense steps to protect their environment, public health, and economy from being devastated by continued, unchecked global warming,” said Attorney General Cuomo.  “Cars are responsible for about one-third of all global warming pollution emitted in the United States, and controlling these emissions is an obvious and essential measure in the battle against global warming.  My office will continue to fight aggressively to defend New York’s right to set pollution emission standards for cars and take other actions necessary to combat climate change.”

The federal Clean Air Act (CAA) grants California – exclusively among all states – the power to enact its own air pollution standards for cars.  The CAA also allows other states to adopt California’s standards, but those standards can only take effect if the EPA grants a waiver exempting California from federal regulation.  The California standards, adopted in September 2004, would reduce emissions of greenhouse gases from cars by 30% by 2016.  New York adopted California’s standards in December 2005, and at least 17 other states have now either adopted or plan to adopt the California standards.

Cuomo continued, “The Obama Administration is taking forceful action to fight global warming based on sound science and grounded firmly in the law.  My office is fully committed to supporting and defending these actions.”

Cuomo’s coalition is moving to intervene on the EPA’s behalf in a challenge to the EPA waiver decision that was filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on September 8, 2009.  The other states or state agencies joining New York in the suit are: Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.  The State of California has also moved to intervene on the EPA’s side.

Attorney General Cuomo has been leading the fight against global warming on a number of fronts.  In September 2009, the Attorney General won an important victory when a federal court of appeals ruled that New York and a broad coalition can move forward with a public nuisance action against five major coal-burning power companies to force them to reduce their carbon emissions.  In October 2008, Attorney General Cuomo announced a binding and enforceable agreement with a Dynegy Inc. – which is among the top twenty utility emitters of global warming pollution in the United States – to disclose the financial risks that climate change poses to its investors.  Earlier in 2008, the Attorney General reached a similar disclosure agreement with Xcel Energy, one of the top ten utility emitters of global warming pollution in the United States. 

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Pete Grannis said, “The EPA’s Clean Air Act waiver recognizes the value of state leadership in combating climate change, reducing greenhouse gas pollution, and improving air quality.  Today, we join EPA and the other states that have led the way on this issue by defending EPA’s issuance of that waiver.”

The suit announced today is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Isaac Cheng, Yueh-Ru Chu, and Michael Myers under the supervision of Special Deputy Attorney General for Environmental Protection Katherine Kennedy.