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Kai Ryssdal: When it comes to producing greenhouse gasses, airplanes, ships and heavy agricultural equipment are pretty much in a class by themselves. So today, five states and a coalition of environmental groups said they're going to sue the Environmental Protection Agency to force it do something about that.

Marketplace's Renita Jablonski has more.

Renita Jablonski: The states say they've been waiting for the EPA to get back to them since last year. That's when petitions started going out asking the agency to regulate greenhouse gas emissions as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act. Instead, on July 11, the EPA responded by saying it would only take public comment on the issue.

Jake Weiglar is a spokesman for the Oregon Attorney General's Office.

Jake Weiglar: We've asked the EPA for quite a while now to look into regulating this area, an area we feel needs to be covered by climate change solutions and the EPA's failed to respond.

Oregon, California, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York City want the EPA to require airlines to use cleaner fuels and design more efficient airplanes. The same idea would apply to off-road vehicles. A solution for ships includes just them slowing down.

Sarah Burt, a lawyer at Earthjustice, says this isn't just about regulating airplanes and cruise ships.

Sarah Burt: The first step is for EPA to make its formal endangerment finding, to actually conclude that greenhouse gases do have the potential to cause harm to human health.

The EPA's Jonathan Shradar says making that kind of conclusion official would mean regulating every part of the economy.

Jonathan Shradar: I think these states, their time would be better served lobbying their delegations in Congress to take action rather than spending taxpayers dollars' in court.

By the time a lawsuit would be filed, a new more regulation-friendly administration could be in place.

I'm Renita Jablonski for Marketplace.