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February 20, 2003
States will Sue EPA to Deflate CO2 Emissions

OLYMPIA - The Attorney General's Office today announced it will join six other states in a planned lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the nation's power plants.

The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to analyze the impacts of air pollutants from power plants and establish or revise standards at least every eight years. The coalition of states assert that the required analysis has not been performed in at least 20 years. As a result, there are no regulations for CO2 emissions, and standards for other air pollutants are vastly inadequate.

"Washington has shown its commitment by investing heavily in clean sources of power and strong pollution controls to provide the healthiest air possible for our citizens, crops, and businesses," Attorney General Christine Gregoire said. "We need to see the same kind of commitment on a national level."

States planning to sue the EPA include Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island.

Carbon dioxide emissions contribute significantly to global warming, according to reports by the National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Department of State. U.S. power plants alone account for 10 percent of global carbon dioxide pollution. The attorneys general contend that mandating reductions in power plant emissions is the best and most cost-effective way to reduce global warming.

"The national standard for power plant emissions needs improvement to level the playing field for citizens and businesses," Gregoire stated. "The impacts are costly to our health and to our environment."

Air pollutants and global warming can increase the concentrations of pollutants like ground-level ozone that cause respiratory illnesses such as asthma. Increases in ground-level ozone concentrations also can reduce agricultural crop yields.

In Washington, snowpacks in the Cascade Mountains are declining, threatening spring stream flows that are critical to the life cycle of declining salmon fisheries. The state also stands to lose precious coastal resources as a result of rising ocean levels.

The states today gave EPA Administrator Christie Whitman 60-day notice of their intent to file a lawsuit as required by federal law.


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