EPA to California: Drop Dead

Agency Says California Can't Act Without "Unique" Global Warming Impacts

WASHINGTON (February 29, 2008) – Today, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson issued an explanation for his decision to deny California the normally routine waiver to cut global warming pollution from new cars and trucks. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), together with a coalition of states and environmental organizations, is going to the courts to get EPA out of the way.

"Johnson – who made the denial two months ago – claims California is not suffering “compelling and extraordinary conditions” – the bar the state must clear under the Clean Air Act in order to set its own vehicle emission standards.

EPA has never before denied California a waiver on this basis.

The following is a statement of David Doniger, policy director of NRDC’s Climate Center and NRDC’s lead attorney in the waiver litigation:

“This hollow explanation is the Bush administration’s latest cynical response to the crisis of global warming. EPA Administrator Johnson’s excuse – that global warming is not “unique” to California – is both factually and legally wrong.

“No other state can claim the same wide range of severe impacts that California will suffer – indeed, already is suffering – more illnesses from heat-enhanced smog levels, dramatic reductions in state’s water supply, more horrendous wildfires, sea level rise, and agricultural losses. The combination and severity of these impacts makes California’s conditions “compelling and extraordinary.”

Johnson is also wrong because, as his predecessor William Ruckelshaus found more than two decades ago in 1984, the Clean Air Act does not require California’s plight to be ‘unique’ in order to be ‘compelling and extraordinary.’

“Ruckelshaus found that the law allows California to attack pollution problems that it shares with other states, and that California does not need to be the place where those problems are most severe.

“Perhaps most remarkable is the Administrator’s argument that because global warming is bad all over the United States, California and the other states have no authority to respond. So where is the federal response? Just this week, EPA indefinitely delayed taking any federal action – even though the Supreme Court ruled last April that the Clean Air Act gives EPA the authority and responsibility to curb global warming pollution.

“California and 17 other states – covering nearly half the U.S. car population – are ready to act. Now it’s up to the courts to get EPA out of the way.”