California pushes EPA for waiver to implement emissions law

California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown May 22 asked the US EPA for a wavier of the Clean Air Act so that California and 11 other states could impose tougher standards on motor vehicle emissions.

May 23rd, 2007

Paula Dittrick
Senior Staff Writer

HOUSTON, May 23 -- California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown May 22 asked officials from the US Environmental Protection Agency for a wavier of the Clean Air Act (CAA) so that California and 11 other states could impose tougher standards on motor vehicle emissions than federal regulators require.

Following his testimony before an EPA panel in Washington, DC, Brown also testified on the same subject before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Charging that the administration of President George W. Bush is "acting in collusion with the auto and oil industries," Brown said California is prepared to sue the federal government if it blocks the state's efforts to reduce motor vehicles emissions that contribute to greenhouse gases.

"The California legislature passed a greenhouse law in 2002 requiring automakers to reduce vehicle global warming emissions 30% by 2016," Brown said. "There is no doubt that automobile manufacturers can meet that goal, and since the federal government does not want to seek such a reduction, California intends to move forward."

He said 11 other states have adopted the California standard. Those states are Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

"Together we represent one third of the population of the United States, and the people of our 12 states want to act now to combat global warming. We are not willing to wait while President Bush offers only rhetoric, excuses, and delays," Brown said. "Suing the federal government is not our first choice, but we will have no choice if our legitimate efforts to protect our planet are blocked because of partisan political games in Washington."

Waiver request
California filed its request for an EPA waiver in December 2005. Under CAA, California can adopt stricter standards by requesting a waiver from EPA. Similar requests have been approved more than 50 times in the past, Brown said. Approval of California's waiver means the other states would get approval automatically.

It's "an unreasonable delay" that the waiver request has been pending for more than a year, said Brown, who later told reporters in Washington that EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson "can be a hero or a villain" depending upon his decisions regarding issues related to global warming.

This is not the first time that states have questioned EPA regarding greenhouse-gas emissions. The US Supreme Court ruled Apr. 2 that EPA has the authority, under CAA, to enact limits on carbon dioxide emissions. That decision resulted from a lawsuit filed by Massachusetts along with several other states, US cities, and environmental groups (OGJ, Apr. 9, 2007, p. 33).

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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