Tue 15 June 2010 – A coalition of US environmental groups has filed a lawsuit challenging a perceived failure by the US Environmental Protection Agency to address pollution from aircraft, ocean-going ships and non-road vehicles and engines. The move came a day after the US Senate voted to uphold the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. The lawsuit was filed in the federal district court in the District of Columbia by Earthjustice and the Western Environmental Law Center on behalf of Oceana, Friends of the Earth, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Center for Food Safety and the International Center for Technology Assessment.
“Yesterday, Congress rejected an attempt to strip EPA of its authority to protect the public from global warming pollution,” said Sarah Burt of Earthjustice, who is representing the coalition. “EPA has a clear moral obligation and legal duty under the Clean Air Act to act decisively to protect public health and the environment on which Americans depend.”
Together, aircraft, ship and non-road vehicles and engines are responsible for 24% of US mobile greenhouse gas emissions and are projected to grow rapidly over coming decades, claims Earthjustice.
The organization says aircraft emit 11% of CO2 emissions from US transportation sources and 3% of total US GHGs, and the country is responsible for nearly half of worldwide CO2 aviation emissions. It quotes FAA estimates that GHGs from domestic aviation are expected to increase 60% by 2025.
“While some countries, such as the European Union, have already begun to respond to these challenges, the United States has failed to address this enormous source of emissions,” says Earthjustice.
The coalition petitioned EPA over two years ago to determine whether GHG emissions from marine vessels, aircraft and non-road vehicles and engines endangered public health and welfare, and, if so, to issue regulations to control emissions from these sources. The EPA has so far not responded.
“The evidence of climate change is becoming clearer each and every day,” said Danielle Fugere, Regional Program Director for Friends of the Earth. “We can no longer afford the EPA’s refusal to address important and growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions.”
Vera Pardee, Senior Attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, commented: “Cost effective solutions to achieve significant GHG pollution reductions from ships, airplanes and non-road engines exist today. The Obama administration needs to move forward far more quickly to implement them to avoid devastating climate disruption. Delaying common-sense pollution-reduction measures is the wrong policy and wrong on the law.”
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