|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