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California's attorney general said Tuesday he will postpone a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency because of the massive wildfires in Southern California. Attorney General Jerry Brown told The Associated Press that California would not sue the agency on Wednesday as he had planned. Instead, he will likely sue next week.

"The governor would rather do this next week," Brown said. "He's totally focused on the fires."

California intends to sue the EPA in federal court to force a decision on whether California and 11 other states, including Rhode Island, can impose stricter vehicle standards.

The state has waited 22 months for a response from the agency to its petition to be allowed to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from cars, pickup trucks and sports utility vehicles.

California regulators need an answer because they want to implement a 2002 state law requiring vehicles sold in California to emit fewer greenhouse gases starting with model year 2009.

The proposed standard would cut emissions in California by about a quarter by the year 2030, according to the California Air Resources Board. But the law can take effect only if the EPA grants California a waiver under the federal Clean Air Act.

The EPA held hearings in May on the state's request, and administrator Steven Johnson has said he would make a decision by the end of the year. Meanwhile, the agency is also crafting national standards that it plans to propose by the end of the year.

California's lawsuit will allege there has been an "unreasonable delay" by the EPA in deciding on the waiver request, which the state first applied for in December 2005.

Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Washington also plan to join California's lawsuit against the EPA, officials in those states said.

While the federal government sets national air pollution rules, California has unique status under the Clean Air Act to enact its own regulations -- with permission from the EPA. Other states can then follow either the federal rules or California standards, if they are tougher.

Eleven other states -- Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington -- are ready to implement California's emissions standards. The governors of Arizona, Florida and New Mexico also have said their states will adopt the standard.

The Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, which represents Honda, Nissan, Toyota and 11 other foreign car companies, has sued to block the standards from taking effect.

It argues the standards would raise the cost of cars and could force manufacturers to pull some sports utility vehicles and pickup trucks from showrooms. Their case is pending in federal court in Fresno.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers has asked the EPA to deny the waiver, arguing there should be one federal standard.


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