In an arrogant and counterproductive move, the E.P.A. denied California’s request for a permission to regulate vehicle greenhouse gas emission:

The Bush administration said Wednesday night that it would deny California’s bid to set stricter vehicle emissions standards than federal law required as part of the state’s efforts to fight climate change. Stephen L. Johnson, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, said he planned to deny the state’s application for a waiver from federal law that the state had sought more than two years ago. “The Bush administration is moving forward with a clear national solution — not a confusing patchwork of state rules,” Mr. Johnson told reporters on a conference call. “I believe this is a better approach than if individual states were to act alone.”

Y’know, Johnson may be right. A national solution might just be better than a state patchwork. But California stepped up, while Bush has stalled. In his campaign 8 years ago, he talked about regulating carbon emissions, and as soon as Al Gore was off his back, that talk melted away like the Arctic ice.

In the UN’s Bali climate change conference, the United States had to be guilt-tripped into joining the rest of the world in controlling our interference with global climate. The representative for Papua New Guinea told us:

We seek your leadership. But if for some reason you are not willing to lead, leave it to the rest of us. Please get out of the way.

Apparently Californians have to say the same thing. There is no doubt, of course, that California alone cannot change the trajectory of the world’s climate. Heck, the United States can’t do it alone. California has to work with the other states, and the United States has to work with other nations. But the problem is current, and will only get worse and harder to solve. Some climate scientists think we’ve already passed the point where feedback loops will cause irreversible climate change. Others think we aren’t there quite yet, but they all agree that we will reach such a point, and we will reach it soon.

If the President doesn’t want to act, he should get out of the way while the rest of the world goes about its business.

Comments

  1. #1 Zeno
    December 19, 2007

    Why wait till the Bush administration is gone to prepare the way for states to enact tougher air pollution standards? If British political leaders can employ the skills of “shadow ministers” while out of office to prepare future policies, why don’t the Democratic presidential candidates find “shadow EPA administrators” to smooth the way for instantaneous granting of the state-requested waivers as soon as the new president takes office in January 2009? [Link]

  2. #2 James
    December 20, 2007

    I wonder if this same idea is going to be used for the feds to override KDHE’s denial of the coal plant near Holcomb, Kansas. What a ridiculous decision.

  3. #3 Dave Briggs
    December 20, 2007

    Some climate scientists think we’ve already passed the point where feedback loops will cause irreversible climate change. Others think we aren’t there quite yet, but they all agree that we will reach such a point, and we will reach it soon.

    On the Island of Doubt blog, ( which is excellent by the way), he was talking about this and the conclusion seems inevitable. There is going to have to be a certain amount of adapting, whether we like it or not. I think everyone’s vote is, not! but it looks like we have no choice!
    Dave Briggs :~)

  4. #4 Fastlane
    December 20, 2007

    Are these the same republicans that are always going on about state’s rights??

    Not that I haven’t long ago given up any kind of actual consistency in poltiticians’ ethics.

  5. #5 Coturnix
    December 20, 2007

    And the idea of “patchwork” that the Administration is trotting out is nonsense. There is the federal energy bill which is far too week and there is the California bill which is much better. There are 14 other states, comprising about half of the US population, that are ready to adopt the California bill, not invent one from scratch. So, it is a choice between two bills, not many.

  6. #6 W. Kevin Vicklund
    December 21, 2007

    As reported (a major qualifier), this decision would appear to be in violation of federal law.

    From US Code 42 ß7543:

    (b) Waiver

    (1) The Administrator shall, after notice and opportunity for public hearing, waive application of this section to any State which has adopted standards (other than crankcase emission standards) for the control of emissions from new motor vehicles or new motor vehicle engines prior to March 30, 1966, if the State determines that the State standards will be, in the aggregate, at least as protective of public health and welfare as applicable Federal standards. No such waiver shall be granted if the Administrator finds tható

    (A) the determination of the State is arbitrary and capricious,
    (B) such State does not need such State standards to meet compelling and extraordinary conditions, or
    (C) such State standards and accompanying enforcement procedures are not consistent with section 7521 (a) of this title.

    (2) If each State standard is at least as stringent as the comparable applicable Federal standard, such State standard shall be deemed to be at least as protective of health and welfare as such Federal standards for purposes of paragraph (1).
    (3) In the case of any new motor vehicle or new motor vehicle engine to which State standards apply pursuant to a waiver granted under paragraph (1), compliance with such State standards shall be treated as compliance with applicable Federal standards for purposes of this subchapter.

    California is the only state which meets the requirement. Therefore, only California can promulgate standards different than the national standards. However, other states have been allowed to adopt the California standards, as Coturnix said. The EPA can’t deny the California waiver request for the reason they gave.

  7. #7 kozmetik
    December 23, 2007

    There are 14 other states, comprising about half of the US population, that are ready to adopt the California bill, not invent one from scratch. So, it is a choice between two bills, not many.