Hello everyone, Patricia Monahan here, the Director of the California Office at UCS.
The US Environmental Protection Agency just issued its formal rationale for denying California and 12 other states the right to cut global warming pollution from cars and trucks. According to the EPA, the state of California does not have “compelling and extraordinary conditions" required for a waiver under the Clean Air Act.
This bizarre interpretation of the Clean Air Act implies that the inundation of California’s coastline, the loss of 50 to 80 percent of Sierra Nevada snow pack, and the potentially profound and costly changes to state agriculture are unworthy of unique attention. EPA Administrator Johnson discounts the impact of climate change on California. He is quoted "I'm not saying that California isn't experiencing problems as a result of global climate change. There are in fact other parts of the country that are actually worse."
Now that the details are out, we can see exactly why his staff scientists, analysts, and lawyers were lined up against his decision: Johnson is not only wrong on the science, as I note above, but he’s wrong on the law. Compelling and extraordinary does NOT mean unique. If the conditions had to be unique, then why would other states be allowed to adopt the California standards? Given the profound near-term effects specific to California, there is no rational way the Golden State does not meet the “compelling and extraordinary” standards. Unfortunately, Administrator Johnson seems more interested in protecting the interests of recalcitrant automakers, rather than obeying the law and the mandate of the Supreme Court to fight climate change through cleaner cars.
Together, the states that have adopted California’s vehicle standards comprise about one-third of the new vehicle fleet. According to the California Air Resources Board, implementing the clean car standards in these states would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 204 million metric tons of global warming pollution (carbon dioxide equivalent emissions) compared to business as usual. That’s nearly a 90 percent reduction in global warming pollution from the CA standards relative to the newly passed federal fuel economy standards. Indeed, those federal fuel economy standards were created as part of an energy bill. Global warming pollution is not mentioned in those standards, nor is the right of California to tackle global warming pollution from cars in any way modified or preempted.
In the face of growing evidence that climate change is happening faster than experts anticipated, Administrator Johnson is putting the brakes on state actions to address the problem. So, unfortunately it may be up to the states to push the Agency out of the way. We didn’t need another lawsuit—we need solutions.
Posted by: Patty