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Press Room:  For Immediate Release 
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 15, 2009
CONTACT: Josh Dorner, 202.675.2384
                 David Willett, 202.675.6698

Bush's Last Stand:
Sierra Club Moves to Stop Administration's Final, Illegal Effort to Block Action on Global Warming
 

Washington, D.C.—The Sierra Club is filing suit today in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in order to overturn the Bush administration's final, unlawful effort to block meaningful action on global warming.  The emergency legal action is a response to a memo signed by EPA Administrator Johnson designed to codify an incorrect and unlawful interpretation of environmental laws—including the Clean Air Act—in an attempt pave the way for the improper approval of dozens of coal-fired power plants in states across the country.
 
In the wake of the EPA Environmental Appeals Board's (EAB) landmark decision in the Bonanza case last November that required new coal-fired power plants to address their global warming emissions, the Bush EPA is rushing to protect polluters.  Today's legal action is necessary to protect the integrity of the permitting process and the Clean Air Act itself and to prevent permits from being issued that could result in tens of millions of tons of additional global warming pollution each year. 

"EPA Administrator Steve Johnson has acted in brazen defiance our nation's highest court, Congress, his own staff and the law for years," said David Bookbinder, Sierra Club's Chief Climate Counsel.  "In a new twist, he is now openly and unlawfully ignoring EPA's own judges in order to protect polluters in the waning days of a dangerously irrelevant administration.  We have already lost eight precious years in the fight against global warming and now Johnson and the Bush administration are trying to stand in the way of the next administration. We can't let that happen."  

In an unlawful attempt to overturn the EAB decision, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson issued a memo on December 18, 2008 repudiating the impact of the decision.  The memo was subsequently published in the Federal Register on December 31, 2008.

 "After almost two years of ignoring the Supreme Court, we did not expect them to give up even in the wake of yet another landmark decision requiring them to act on global warming," said Bookbinder.  "Nevertheless, this desperate administration has now gone to unprecedented lengths to protect polluters and, sadly, this last emergency action is required to stop them."

The Bonanza decision had eviscerated every rationale put forward by the Bush EPA as to why the agency could not require CO2 emissions limits on new coal-fired power plants under the Clean Air Act, and paved the way for the incoming Obama Administration to make such requirements.  The Johnson Memo simply repeats those same, discredited rationales, and because it tries to establish a new and "binding" interpretation of the Clean Air Act by administrative fiat, it violates the procedural requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Bonanza decision itself.  

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