California has vowed to take the Environmental Protection Agency to court for the third time over its effort to reduce greenhouse emissions from vehicles.
Wednesday, the EPA rejected California's effort to regulate greenhouse gases from vehicles, a decision that will keep as many as 17 other states from following suit. The EPA argued that the increased fuel economy standards approved by Congress and signed by President Bush are a more cohesive, fair national strategy for tackling greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles. More than 50% of the U.S. population, and 45% of new car buyers, would have been affected by California's law, had it been adopted in California and the other states, according to Environmental Defense.
California's law, which would require a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2016, was passed in 2003, and it requested the Clean Air Act waiver it needed from the EPA in 2005. When the EPA rejected that lawsuit, California joined other states in a case that went to the Supreme Court, leading to a landmark decision this spring that stated that the EPA has the right and responsibility to regulate greenhouse gases as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act. Months later, with no decision forthcoming, California sued again to force the EPA to make its decision public, which it did Wednesday.
Now, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has vowed to sue again.
"California sued to compel the agency to act on our waiver, and now we will sue to overturn today's decision and allow Californians to protect our environment," he said.
(A federal court also sided with the states in New Hampshire.)
According to Environmental Defense, these are the other states that had vowed to adopt California's law if approved: Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont and Washington.
Here's how others reacted to the decision:
"This decision is like pulling over the fire trucks on their way to the blaze," said Fred Krupp, president of Environmental Defense "For 40 years, EPA administrators have recognized the important role that California plays in innovating new standards to fight pollution."
"The Bush Administration has repeatedly blocked federal and international action on global warming. When the states took action, the Administration chose to stifle true progress on preventing global warming and protecting our children's heritage," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. "The threat of climate change to California's communities, coastline, ecosystems, water supply and health of its citizens is clear and compelling. Two federal courts have ruled that California has the legal right to set its own greenhouse gas standards for vehicles, and other states have the right to follow."
"The California standards are the single most effective step yet taken in the United States to curb global warming. By blocking the California standards, the administration has stuck a thumb in the eye of 18 governors from both red and blue states who have led the way on global warming by adopting these landmark rules," said David Doniger, NRDC Climate Center Policy Director. "California and the 17 other states have led the way to cut global warming pollution from new automobiles. Their right to do so has been affirmed by three federal court decisions this year, including the Supreme Courts landmark ruling that carbon dioxide is an air pollutant, just like any other. The new energy law signed by the president today explicitly preserves this Clean Air Act authority."
"In the eleventh hour of this presidency, the administration is still doing what it can to throw roadblocks in the way of progress in combating global warming," said Michelle Robinson, director of the Union of Concerned Scientists' Clean Vehicles Program. "California has the legal right to set stringent pollution standards and has historically led the way for the rest of the country. But the EPA is blocking California and a dozen other states from protecting their residents. Administrator Johnson has sadly has chosen politics over his responsibility to protect public health and the environment."
"By denying this waiver, EPA has not wavered in preserving a national program that raises fuel economy while reducing carbon dioxide. We commend EPA for protecting a national, 50-state program," said Dave McCurdy, CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. "Enhancing energy security and improving fuel economy are priorities to all automakers, but a patchwork quilt of inconsistent and competing fuel economy programs at the state level would only have created confusion, inefficiency, and uncertainty for automakers and consumers."
For additional context and commentary, read The Daily Green's breaking news coverage.
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