EPA Denies States the Right to Fight Global Warming

December 19, 2007
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The following Environmental Defense experts are available for comment:
Fred Krupp, President
Vickie Patton, Deputy General Counsel
Jim Marston, Senior Attorney
Jim Tripp, General Counsel
(Washington DC – December 19, 2007). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency stunned the nation today by denying California and 17 other states the right to proceed with regulations that would reduce global warming pollution from new automobiles.
EPA is not following science or the law,” said Jim Tripp, general counsel for Environmental Defense.
“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 Supreme Court ruled decisively in April 2007 that EPA does have the authority and the obligation to regulate global warming emissions. Two other federal courts – the 2nd district court in Vermont in September and the 9th district court in California earlier this month – also enforced states’ rights to proceed with clean car rules. The federal courts also dismissed automakers’ claims that they did not have the technology to meet such standards.
EPA denied California’s waiver, saying that new CAFE standards in the recently authorized energy bill would suffice to reduce global warming emissions from new automobiles.
“The administration is putting the brakes on state action to address the global warming crisis,” said Vickie Patton, deputy general counsel for Environmental Defense and a former attorney in the EPA’s General Counsel’s office. “The Administration’s first bold act on global warming – and it’s to stop the states who are trying to do something about the problem. It is just plain shocking.”
New CAFE standards, if they go into effect, do not fully phase in until 2020,” said Jim Marston, general counsel for Environmental Defense. The California greenhouse gas limits will occur earlier - beginning in 2009 and fully phased in by 2016. With the mounting evidence of climate change impacts occurring now, it is imperative that we are take action immediately.
Nationwide 17 states have awaited a decision by EPA to move forward with clean car standards modeled after California’s including: Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont and Washington. California and these states account for nearly 50% of the total U.S. population and account for approximately 45% of new automobile sales in the country. Implementation of the Clean Cars program in these states would lead to groundbreaking reductions in global warming pollution. By 2020, the program would prevent annual emissions equivalent to 100 million tons of carbon dioxide, a principal heat-trapping greenhouse gas. These savings would be equivalent to closing over thirty 500 megawatt coal-fired power plants or removing 20 million cars from the road.
 Background information:
In 2003, California used its special authority under the Clean Air Act to pass legislation requiring the state’s air agency, the California Air Resources Board, to issue regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars. The Clean Cars law, also known as the Pavley law, will reduce carbon emissions by 22 percent by 2012 and by 30 percent by 2016.
On December 21, 2005, California submitted a request for the EPA to waive the Clean Air Act’s preemption bar to cleaner car standards – an action EPA has consistently taken more than 50 times during the past 40 years. EPA initially argued that it did not have the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act until the April 2007 Supreme Court ruling in Massachusetts vs. EPA found otherwise.
The Pavley/Clean Cars standards were developed over four years (Legislation: 2002, Regulation: 2003, 2004, Administrative law review: 2005) with careful and measured technical review and public input. In contrast, the waiver denial seems to have been developed during the course of a couple of weeks, once the White House directed EPA to deny the waiver. The decision doesn’t appear to have any connection to the testimony and public comment received, in which EPA received a record-setting number of comments, and heard from some of the world’s leading scientists, engineers, government officials and even former EPA administrators. Only the auto industry opposed granting the waiver.
The State of California, under the auspices of Governor Schwarzenegger and the Attorney General’s office, filed a lawsuit against the federal EPA to force a decision on the state’s waiver request to implement its clean cars law, AB 1493. Please go to our website (http://www.environmentaldefense.org/page.cfm?tagID=15503) for more detailed background.
Environmental Defense, a leading national nonprofit organization, represents more than 500,000 members.  Since 1967, Environmental Defense has linked science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships to create breakthrough solutions to the most serious environmental problems.  www.environmentaldefense.org