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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Florida DEP supports emissions appeal

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection joined California earlier this month in a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency to allow states to enforce their own standards for regulating greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles.

Under the Clean Air Act, states have the right to establish stricter vehicle emission standards than those required by the federal regulations created by the EPA, upon the agency's approval of a waiver.

California requested a waiver in 2005. Two years later, the EPA denied the state its request to greater reduce the greenhouse emissions of California drivers.

On Jan. 2, California filed a lawsuit to appeal the denial. More than 17 states, including Florida, filed soon after to support the appeal.

"The states are saying if the government won't get off its butt and deal with this issue of restricting emissions, then they will," said Walter Rosenbaum, a UF political science professor who specializes in environmental policy.

Whenever there is an environmental issue, there is always a conflict between the states and the federal government, Rosenbaum said.

Because vehicles and pollution both cross borders, this issue entangles both levels of government.

The department is intervening on behalf of the state because it was appointed in July by Gov. Charlie Crist to adopt the California emissions standards, said Sarah P. Williams, DEP spokeswoman.

"Florida is one of the most vulnerable states to climate changes," Williams said. "We're definitely not sitting around waiting. We want to be ready."

She said there is no way to know how long the lawsuit will take to be settled. Meanwhile, the state has been holding public workshops to get feedback from Florida residents.

Rosenbaum said if the waiver passes, residents must put pressure on the state to go through with the regulations.

"It's one thing to have Florida say they want the authority to regulate," he said. "It's another for a state to actually regulate the auto industry. That's not easy."

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