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Environmental Groups Challenge Va.'s EPA lawsuit

March 19, 2010

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Two environmental groups are challenging Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli's legal action to block federal regulation of greenhouse gases.

The Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of Wetlands Watch filed a motion with the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington late Thursday supporting the Environmental Protection Agency's findings that greenhouse gases are dangerous to people.

The groups say Cuccinelli's challenge to the EPA findings is an "unwarranted stall tactic" that is a dangerous distraction from
the impacts of climate change.

"What the shoreline communities in Virginia need is insurance. They need some positive action that's going to help them cope with the rates of sea level rise that we've been seeing and the rates that we expect to see," said Skip Stiles, a representative of Wetlands Watch, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and conserving Virginia wetlands. "We're going to need federal help to deal with it."

Cuccinelli is asking the EPA to reconsider its conclusion that carbon dioxide and other emissions contribute to dangerous global warming. He's also asking the federal appeals court to review the decision.

"It is important for us to respond to the attorney general's finding; to counter this view that climate change and emits are not a serious problem in Virginia," said Trip Pollard, land and community program director for the SELC.

If the motion is granted, the SELC will represent Wetlands Watch in the appeals court proceedings.

Cuccinelli's office said Friday that a total of 15 states have filed motions to join Virginia's appeal.

Virginia's actions are aimed at a December EPA "endangerment" finding about carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, setting the stage for future rules restricting such emissions.

"The potential regulations resulting from the endangerment finding could severely impact Virginia jobs; energy, agriculture, manufacturing, and their industries; as well as put a tremendous financial burden on Virginia citizens," Cuccinelli said in a news release Friday.

He had previously said internal e-mails and documents from a British climate research center suggest the EPA relied on flawed and, in some cases, falsified data. Cuccinelli has asked the EPA to delay final consideration of that finding so "newly available information" can be reviewed.

An exhaustive review of those 1,073 e-mails conducted by The Associated Press found that those climate scientists stonewalled skeptics and discussed hiding data, but they didn't undercut the vast body of evidence showing the world is warming because of man-made greenhouse gas emissions.

The U.S. Supreme Court declared in 2007 that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are pollutants that the EPA could regulate if found to endanger public health. The Bush administration never acted on the court order.

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