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Maine Attorney General asks judge to dismiss electric car lawsuit alleging state fails to meet climate goals

Maine state officials on Friday asked a judge to dismiss a lawsuit brought by environmentalists accusing the state of failing to meet its goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. by not pursuing a policy to promote the sales of electric vehicles.

The Department of Environmental Protection is not required by law to adopt a policy to expand the use of electric vehicles, and its “alleged failure or refusal” to adopt the policy is a matter of discretion and not subject to judicial review, the state said in its April 22 response to a lawsuit filed by the Conservation Law Foundation, the Sierra Club and Maine Youth Action.

The lawsuit, filed in Cumberland County Superior Court, also says the environmental groups' claim that DEP failed to adopt rules required by Maine state law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions should be dismissed because the groups do not have the legal standing to make such a request.

In addition, the state argued that the DEP did not violate climate change legislation and the lawsuit asks the court to violate the separation of powers enshrined in the Maine Constitution.

Emily K. Green, senior staff attorney at the Conservation Law Foundation in Maine, said the state “would be better off investing its time and resources in implementing our climate law rather than trying to dismiss our lawsuit before we even have a day in court.”

Environmentalists said in their lawsuit that the DEP and the Board of Environmental Protection, which oversees the DEP, are responsible for implementing Maine's climate law, which calls for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 45 percent from 1990 levels by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050.

The environmentalists have asked the court to order the board to issue rules by Nov. 1 that comply with the state's climate law, with transportation as a priority. They have asked the court to order the board to issue electric vehicle rules or an alternative rule by the same date, which is one month before the Dec. 1 deadline by which the Maine Climate Council must update the state's climate plan.

This story will be updated.

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