California Sues the EPA ~ Hybrid Car Review
Hybrid Car Review: California Sues the EPA

Thursday, January 03, 2008

California Sues the EPA

California State FlagCalifornia has begun its lawsuit to force the EPA to grant the waiver to enforce their own greenhouse gas emissions for cars and trucks. The EPA denied the waiver almost immediately following the passage of the new Energy Bill which is set to increase CAFE standards to 35 mpg by 2020.

Lawmakers from California were disgusted by the waiver denial and promised they would quickly file suit to force the EPA's hands. 15 other states joined with California, including Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. Environmental groups signing onto the suit include the Conservation Law Foundation, Environmental Defense, the International Center for Technology Assessment, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club.

EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson denied California, saying the new federal standards would do more to prevent global warming.

"These gases contribute to the challenge of global climate change affecting every state in the union," Johnson said. "Therefore, according to the criteria in section 209 of the Clean Air Act, EPA did not find that separate California standards are needed to "meet compelling and extraordinary conditions."

Calfornia officials feel their program is better than the federal one. "I think we are coming back strong not only with our legal case, but our technical justification," California Air Resources Board chairwoman Mary Nichols told reporters in a conference call.

Nichols was also quick to point out that California faces extraordinary changes from climate change. Scientists are being quoted as saying rising seas could erode the state's coastlines and levees. Rising temperatures are also expected to reduce the Sierra snowpack, leading to a potential water crisis.

Gov. Arnold Scharzenegger backed up the suit saying EPA officials "are ignoring the will of millions of people who want their government to take action in the fight against global warming."

The EPA is facing off with Congress, as well. Sen Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif, called on the EPA to provide documents about its decision to deny the waiver, claiming EPA administrator went against recommendations by his technical and legal staff. Allegations have been made that Johnson acted in direction by the Vice-President. The documents would include records of the EPA's communications with the White House.

The EPA's general counsel laid out a memo directing employees to preserve and produce all documents related to the decision including any opposing views and communications between senior EPA officials and the White House, including Vice President Dick Cheney's office.

The documents should include "any records presenting options, recommendations, pros and cons, legal issues or risks, (or) political implications," said the all-hands memo from EPA General Counsel Roger Martella Jr.

The memo came to light via the the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

"For months he said he was basing it on the scientific and legal merits and then did the precise opposite," said Jeff Ruch, PEER's executive director. Ruch says PEER was contacted by employees of the EPA who were outraged by the decision.

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