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Senators Introduce Bill to Direct EPA to Grant California Waiver

States that have adopted California Motor Vehicle GHG Standards (as of end of 2007) are in dark green, with the date of the enabling legislation or order. States considering adopting the standards are in light green. Source: EPW Click to enlarge.

US Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), introduced legislation that would direct the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to grant California a waiver under the Clean Air Act to enable the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from light duty vehicles.

In December 2007, the EPA denied California the waiver it and other states require to regulate tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions from passenger cars and light trucks. (Earlier post.)

Fourteen other states have adopted California’s standards, or are in the process of adopting them. Another four are moving toward adopting the California standards. All together, those 19 states represent more than 152.7 million Americans—a majority of the US population.

Cosponsors of the bill include Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Joseph Lieberman (ID-CT), Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Christopher Dodd (D-CT), John Kerry (D-MA), Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Susan Collins (R-ME), Bill Nelson (D-FL) Barack Obama (D-IL), and Roberts Menendez (D-NJ).

In a hearing before the Committee on Environment and Public Works, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson defended his decision to deny the waiver, saying that “it is my view that California does not have a need for these greenhouse gas standards to meet compelling and extraordinary conditions.

The day prior to the hearing, EPW Committee Staff released excerpts of uncensored EPA briefing documents shown to staff that the EPA had not released fully to the Committee or to the public, despite ongoing requests.

According to the EPA briefing document “California continues to have compelling and extraordinary conditions in general (geography, climatic, human and motor vehicle populations—many such conditions are vulnerable to climate change conditions) as confirmed by several recent EPA decisions...

The document also concluded that if EPA granted the waiver, the auto industry would likely sue, but that “EPA is almost certain to win such a suit”—in other words, the granting of the waiver and the implementation of the GHG regulations on light duty vehicles would be upheld.

The EPA document also concluded that if EPA denied the waiver, it faced an “almost certain lawsuit by California” and that the agency was “likely to lose [the] suit.”

Administrator Johnson’s decision to deny the waiver was not supported by the facts, by the law, by the science, or by precedent. I will use every available tool to ensure that California and the nation are able to reduce the pollution that causes global warming. One of those tools is legislation that essentially overturns Mr. Johnson’s actions.

—Senator Boxer



Normally I would say that this is a non-starter. However, so many other states are considering it, this may get some consideration.

Bush has done nothing but get in the way, the Congress forces his hand on CAFE and now he says CAFE is all you need. This guy has taken foot dragging and obstruction to new levels.


deny, deny, deny... obfuscate delay, delay, delay.

It's a position that the EPA can't will against the states and can win against the car companies. Just let the states do this, which is well within their rights, and stop this pointless expensive arguing. The EPAs own lawyers are saying its not likely that they'll stop the states so why all this posturing? Makes you wonder whose goat in the EPA this issue pulls.


2 words executive veto. Besides that Federal law supercedes state law. Lincolns Illegal war in 1865 ensured that. assuming this does pass you will just see auto manufactures not make cars for those states leaving the consumers high and dry. Thank God I live in the Great state of Texas where sanity triumphs over emotion when it comes to the hoax of global warming uh sorry new politically correct global climate change. The earth is cooling and will cool for the next 50 to 100 years due to a natural solar cycle that is now in effect. Hence the abrupt switch from global warming to global climate change so when the world cools as it will its still mans fault and there for taxable. Which is the end game for the climate change maniacs its all about Marxism.


Normally I would prefer a federal standard. But there seems to be very little justification for the EPA position.

The law - wisely or not - clearly grants CA a leadership role that other states did not receive. The plans are reasonable and do not hamper the EPA.


jd, shut your ignorant piehole.



You don't have your facts straight and are just spewing words based on YOUR emotion.
California has more legal authority in setting emission standards because they set them before the EPA was formed.
They are the only state that can do that. Don't believe me? - check the laws.
And your misguided opinions on global warming show pure ignorance.
Don't forget the person that is obstructing this the most came from YOUR STATE!


California has shot themselves in the foot before. They stopped VW from selling their 45+ mpg TDI in California. I never understood what they could possibly have against the second most fuel efficient vehicle that could also run on Bio.


==Thank God I live in the Great state of Texas where sanity triumphs over emotion when it comes to the hoax of global warming.==

Too bad there isn't a single scientific organization in the world which agrees with you.
Then again, what do all the major scientific organizations in the world know about science anyways. Right?

==The earth is cooling and will cool for the next 50 to 100 years due to a natural solar cycle that is now in effect.==

Says who?

Hopefully you aren't refering to this social science journal: "Energy and Environment".
They don't even spell check, much less review their documents for scientific integrity.
Much less be a peer reviewed Physical Science journal.

Do you even understand what Peer Review is?

==Which is the end game for the climate change maniacs its all about Marxism.==

Ah yes, that must be it.



Just because diesel is fuel efficient does not mean that it is good for the environment. Recent studies from UCLA
confirm that the nanoparticles in diesel exhaust cause heart disease. Reducing diesel exhaust emissions is just as important as reducing CO2 emissions. Since there is not enough biodiesel available in the state, CA can not require that all diesel cars run on biodiesel.
This is not shooting oneself in the foot, this is having a clear understanding of the whole picture, not just a small component of it.



When your state has the next hurricane you can rely on your fearless leader to bail you out just like he helped the victims in Louisiana. Then just go screaming foul when you have to swim out of your house...

Rafael Seidl

Senators ought to do something more useful than waste time on bills that are certain to get vetoed, with no chance of an override.

Tom Street

JD. At least we agree on thing. Thank God you are in Texas and not here in Colorado.


I still think the point is moot. Oil prices will rise much faster than the timetables of any GHG or CAFE regs, which will change the marketplace for vehicles utterly.

With peak oil this is a tempest in a teapot.

Healthy Breeze

So, here's the fascinating question; Can the senators muster enough to over ride a veto?

It seems to me that there's a good chance. You've got 26 senators from the 13 states who can follow California's standard. The national standard is clearly meant to be a floor, not a ceiling. You've got the EPA staff themselves who recommended the waiver be granted. You've got nobody besides Michigan really against it. These 13 states combined are nearly as big a market as Japan...which has similar high standards, so clearly car companies can profitably make products for it.

It could catch a ground swell of good PR and happen.

67 votes in the Senate might be possible.

Harvey D


You are unbelievable!!!


I will give Texas one thing. They do have the largest wind farms in the world (Horse Hollow) and they are adding the vast majority of new wind energy products in the US, according to the AWEA. They blew past California in 2006, and currently have almost 1500 MW under construction. Compared to California's 45.

JD: Don't confuse the policies people advocate as a result of the science, with the science itself. I'm sure conservatives can come up with a better solution that involves little government meddling.


Here is my question. Why doesn't California just ban the sale of any car that does not meet their standard and let the EPS sue them? By the time it gets to court, the auto companies will have either complied, or lsot so much money their CEOs will have been replace, and a new administration will be in office overriding the current EPA decision.

The auto companies are not just going to walk away from a market the size of California. That would really punish those liberals in California, wouldn't it?


In most states except California when you pump gasoline into your gas tank you release significant amounts of vapor containing the following chemicals:
15% n-paraffins
30% iso-paraffins
12% cycloparaffins
35% aromatics
ethyl benzene
8% olefins

Before fighting over regulating GHGs, it might be wise to adopt the vapor capture and recycling technology used in California to help limit serious toxic substances released into the atmosphere on a daily basis. As the unified mind says: "First Things First."

This bill is simply for political purpose, to paint the Republican administration with being anti-environment. In early 2009, the Democrats will have the White House and the new EPA boss will reverse the decision. Noonan had it right, Bush has destroyed the Republican party, first is an incompetent administration, recall Katria, second by sticking with the wrong war fighting strategy for far too long, and third by not controlling spending, and forth by not protecting our borders. The American people are going to shift power, not because of the failure of Republican ideals, but because of the Bush failure to govern competently.


I you want to support CA then don't buy cars that don't meet low CO2 specs. (I don't think there any for sale in the US) And certainly don't buy cars from manufacturers that produce huge gas guzzling SUVs. That would be all the US makes and then many foreign makes like Acura, Infinity, BMW.
Vote with your dollars. Don't just wimp out and buy some piece of gas guzzling CO2 belching dung.



I am not a legal expert in this area, but I do not think that California can just ban the sale of any vehicle that it wants to. That would seem like a restraint of interstate commerce. They can not say that you can sell small vehicles but not large ones. They need a reason and up until now clean air was a good enough reason.

L.A. has been trying to meet U.S. air quality standards for many years, so when California says it wants cleaner cars, it can usually get them. CO2 is seen as related to fuel economy and only the Feds can set those standards.


regulating GHG emissions is a controversial subject, the science is not settled yet.. by California imposing these standards means that cars will become more expensive, this is detrimental to everyone and the economy. Regulating pollution is ok but do not do damage based on junk Environut science.

BTW, all it takes is one senator to stop any bill.


Gov. Schwarzenegger says, “…we will sue to overturn today's [Dec. 19, 2007] decision and allow Californians to protect our environment."

With all this suing going on, the environmental lawyers get rich and the rest of us languish. The dual-regulation system (but only pending a federal waiver) currently set forth is flawed. Congress should amend the Federal Clean Air Act to allow a dual-regulation system outright. After all, a dual system is conducive to competition albeit amongst government regulatory agencies, and competition is good as it improves the breed, right? Or, congress should amend the Federal Clean Air Act to establish one unified national set of air pollution regulations. After all, unification is good as all states will be subject to the same rules and thus will work in harmony with less confusion for its citizens, right? The current regulatory structure has been in place for forty years. Perhaps it’s time for a change. Hmmm, who’s advocating change?


I thought Texans were all into states' rights and stuff. Now they're glad that federal law trumps state laws? (though note, if you read the Constitution, you'll discover that is not entirely true; federal law trumps state law only in certain fields, such as interstate commerce). I'll be glad when we get a Democrat back in the White House so that conservatives will get back behind states' rights. They really are good incubators, as California is proving.



I wish it were that simple. If 1 out of 5 vehicles sold is either a pickup truck or an SUV that consumes much more fuel and produces much more pollution than the average vehicle, the other 4 suffer for it. Maybe some see it as a "right" or a "freedom" to be wasteful and polluting, but when others have to breath more polluted air and pay more for expensive and scarce fuel, that is not right.

People want to breath cleaner air and have enough affordable fuel to live their lives. One person feeling that they have the right to be wasteful and polluting does not trump the rights of the others that want cleaner air and readily available and afordable fuel.

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