US environmental protection agency under fire

Published: Saturday 15 March 2003

the us environmental protection agency (epa) has been issued an ultimatum. The attorneys general of three us states -- Maine, Massachusetts and Connecticut -- have threatened to sue the apex watchdog body if it does not include carbon dioxide as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act within 60 days.

The law officers despatched a letter to the agency's administrator, Christine Todd Whitman, stating: "We have not seen any significant progress on the development of a national programme to control carbon dioxide emissions." It was also observed that the epa's inability to address the issue violates the Clean Air Act. The legislation requires the epa to keep tabs on pollutants. By including carbon dioxide in the act, the agency can begin regulating greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions.

In December 2002, a coalition of three environmental organisations had sued the epa for its continued failure to deal with global warming. The current controversy can be traced back to a missive despatched to the agency by 11 attorneys general in 2002, urging it to regulate carbon dioxide emissions.

"The us administration is asking for five more years of studies while the world is warming," said Gary Cook, climate coordinator of activist group Greenpeace. "We are now seeking the court's intervention so that the epa enforces us environmental laws expeditiously and takes action to address global warming." According to Massachusetts attorney general Tom Reilly, neither ensuring clean air nor curbing global warming is a priority for the us government.

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