4 States To Sue For Tougher Emission Rules

Evening traffic crawls in San Diego, Calif., in January 2007. California has some of the strictest smog regulations.
AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty
California's attorney general is suing the EPA for stalling on a decision about whether to let California and 11 other states force car makers to produce cleaner vehicles.

The lawsuit is to be filed in federal court in Washington on Tuesday. It comes 22 months after California first asked the EPA to let the states impose tougher regulations on emissions of greenhouse gases from cars, pickups and SUV's.

"Unfortunately, the Bush administration has really had their head in the sand," California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. said Monday. "In this case, there has been an unreasonable delay."

California wants to implement a 2002 state law that would require automakers to begin making vehicles that emit fewer greenhouse gas emissions by model year 2009. It would cut emissions by about a quarter by the year 2030. But the law can only take effect if the EPA grants the state a waiver under the Clean Air Act.

Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Washington plan to join California's lawsuit against the EPA.

Eight other states - New York, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont - are ready to implement California's emissions standards if it gets the EPA waiver.

According to a new analysis by British climate scientists, the 25 percent reduction in a handful of U.S. states may be far too little, far too late.

CBS News reporter Vicki Barker says the report warns climate change will have a more devastating effect, and will have it much sooner than previously predicted.

According to an article in The Guardian, the United Nations' most recent prediction was that mankind had just eight years to act to stave off the worst effects of global warming. The experts behind the British study say there is less time than that.

Corinne Le Quere, from the University of East Anglia and the British Antarctic Survey, told the Guardian: "It's bad news because the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide has accelerated since 2000 in a way we did not expect."

Le Quere worried his findings might have an adverse effect on the policy makers with the power to legislate change. "My biggest worry is people are discouraged by this and do nothing. I hope political leaders will act on this, because we need to do something fast."

The report lays blame for the unexpectedly rapid rise in greenhouse gas levels to two key factors: China's booming, fossil-fuel-hungry economy, and a reduction in the amount of carbon pollution soaked up by the world's land and oceans.