SACRAMENTO - California sued the federal government yesterday to force a decision about whether the state can impose the nation's first greenhouse gas emission standards for cars and light trucks.
More than a dozen other states are poised to follow California's lead if it is granted the waiver from federal law, presenting a challenge to automakers who would have to adapt to a patchwork of regulations.
The state's lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency, filed in US District Court in Washington, D.C., was expected after Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vowed last spring to take legal action.
"Our future depends on us taking action on global warming right now," Schwarzenegger said during a Capitol news conference. "There's no legal basis for Washington to stand in our way."
At issue is California's nearly 2-year-old request for a waiver under the federal Clean Air Act allowing it to implement a 2002 state antipollution law regulating greenhouse gases.
Eleven other states have adopted California's standard as a way to combat global warming and five others are considering it.
Schwarzenegger and other state officials say implementing the law is crucial for California's ability to meet the provisions of a global warming law that passed last year and generated worldwide attention. That law seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions statewide 25 percent by 2020.
Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington joined California's lawsuit against the federal government yesterday.