HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maine are taking the Environmental Protection Agency to federal appeals court over the agency’s decision not to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

The EPA said last week that it lacked authority from Congress to regulate the gases, and denied a petition by several organizations to impose new controls on vehicles’ greenhouse gas emissions blamed for contributing to global warming.

The attorneys general of the three New England states said Wednesday that the new EPA ruling contradicts earlier statements and testimony by agency officials. They also said the ruling was made in the context of pending litigation.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly and Maine Attorney General Steven Rowe sued the EPA in federal court in June for the agency’s failure to regulate carbon dioxide emissions.

The three officials said Wednesday that they had dropped that lawsuit to focus on the EPA’s new ruling. They are asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to overturn the agency’s ruling.

“The EPA seems determined to deny irrefutable, increasing scientific proof that greenhouse gas emissions and global warming are endangering public health – denying powerful scientific evidence from its own studies,” Blumenthal said.

If the Court of Appeals sides with the EPA, Blumenthal said an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court would be considered.

Reilly said, “EPA has long acknowledged the huge threats posed by global warming while refusing to do anything substantive about the problem. We are redoubling our efforts to challenge EPA’s abdication of responsibility.”

Rowe added that the EPA was ignoring the Clean Air Act and the problems global warming will cause.

“The EPA’s recent flip-flop regarding its authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions ignores the Clean Air Act and all the problems that global warming will cause,” Rowe said. “We just want the EPA to do its job. It shouldn’t be too much to ask.”

John Millett, a spokesman for the EPA, said there are other ways to control greenhouse gas emissions.

“It just wasn’t part of the Clean Air Act makeup,” said Millett. “There are market-driven voluntary programs that address the contribution of these gases and are proven effective at reducing them.”

Last week, Jeff Holmstead, the EPA’s assistant administrator, said Congress must provide the agency with clear legal authority before it could initiate regulatory action to address issues like climate change.

That decision reversed a stance the EPA took during the Clinton administration.

Industry groups praised EPA, while environmental groups criticized the decision.

AP-ES-09-04-03 1517EDT

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