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State Challenges EPA Move to Regulate Greenhouse Gases

March 17, 2010, Juneau, Alaska - The State of Alaska filed a motion in court to intervene in a lawsuit over a recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decision that triggers expanded federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. In challenging the EPA's decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the Parnell administration seeks to join several states and trade groups, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

"Alaska is challenging a decision that, by EPA's own admission, will vastly expand the EPA's regulation of all sectors of the state's economy," said Governor Sean Parnell.  We remain concerned the EPA is extending its authority too aggressively and in a manner that harms the state's interests. We will continue to fight this type of federal overreach."

At issue is the process EPA used in finding that six greenhouse gases contribute to global climate change, endangering human health and welfare and the substantial regulatory implications of that finding. This finding was prompted by the U.S. Supreme Court decision of Massachusetts v. EPA, where the court rejected the agency's reasons for denying a petition to regulate greenhouse gases emissions from motor vehicles.  

"Since 2003, Alaska has been a party to the litigation over the EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act," Attorney General Dan Sullivan said. "Our filing continues Alaska's involvement in this important case. With its endangerment finding, EPA has clearly signaled that its next step is to regulate emissions from 'stationary sources' -- a regulatory burden that would severely hamper economic growth and resource development throughout the state."

The state is not challenging the science on climate change underlying EPA's decision, according to Sullivan. Rather, the state is challenging EPA's position that Congress intended the agency and states to regulate greenhouse gas emissions through the permitting requirements of the Clean Air Act, as well as the process by which the EPA came to this decision. 

Regulations triggered by EPA's decision would increase the number of emissions permits that the federal Clean Air Act forces EPA and the state to administer from several thousand to more than a million. 

"The Clean Air Act was not designed with regulating greenhouse gases in mind and is not well-suited for that purpose," said Commissioner of Environmental Conservation Larry Hartig, who chairs the Governor's Executive Sub-Cabinet on Climate Change. "Climate change presents a complex challenge involving critical social and economic issues in addition to important long-term environmental concerns. A Congressional solution with strong input from states and communities is the best way to address the climate change challenge."

A copy of the motion to leave to intervene is available at:
http://gov.alaska.gov/parnell_media/documents/gov_MotionforLeavetoIntervene.pdf

More information on the EPA's finding and the state's motion to leave to intervene is available at:
http://gov.alaska.gov/parnell_media/documents/gov_StateChallengesEPA.pdf

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