By Valerie Volcovici
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A policy reform group plans to issue a notice on Wednesday informing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that it will file a lawsuit to force the agency to use federal rules to cap and charge for carbon emissions from the transportation sector.
The Institute for Policy Integrity, a part of New York University's Law School, said it is acting because U.S. fuel efficiency standards are not stringent enough.
The group sent the formal petition to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, requesting that she "propose and adopt regulations" that would set up an emissions trading system to curb carbon output from fuel used in vehicles and aircraft.
The group said a comprehensive cap-and-trade system, which would set both a mandatory limit and price on each ton of carbon emitted, would be more effective than the Obama administration's fuel economy standard, which requires that new cars achieve an average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.
"Over the past four years, the Environmental Protection Agency has put several regulations in place to decrease greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to climate change. But none are as comprehensive and cost-effective as placing a cap on emissions," the group said in a statement.
Energy analysts are braced for a litany of lawsuits against the environmental regulator following Obama's re-election from environmental groups that want the EPA to take stronger action and from opponents of its rules.
Michael Livermore, executive director of Policy Integrity, told Reuters that, if the agency remains in a "holding pattern" and delays the implementation of new pollution rules, he expects other groups to take legal action.
The recent devastation that Superstorm Sandy caused along the U.S. East Coast highlighted the need for the administration to work faster to bring down carbon emissions, the group said.
Policy Integrity petitioned the EPA to take the following actions:
- Determine that greenhouse gases from vehicles and aircraft endanger public welfare
- Propose an "upstream" cap-and-trade system targeting oil refiners
- Propose joint rule making with the Federal Aviation Administration to incorporate fuels used in aircraft into the cap and trade system
(Reporting By Valerie Volcovici.; Editing by Ros Krasny and Andre Grenon)