The Bush Administration has blocked an effort by California and other states to require higher emissions limits for cars and trucks to improve the air for their citizens. After waiting and hoping that federal courts would side with industry in litigation over the question, the Administration was forced to come up and oppose the environmental effort when the industry lost in court.
Sixteen states have joined in the California effort to do something about greenhouse gases to counter the efforts of the Bush Administration, which has opposed efforts both domestically and globally to deal with the growing environmental crisis.
This month, a federal district court has ruled against the auto industry’s attempt to stop California from requiring cleaner cars. The ruling of U.S. District Court Judge Anthony Ishii now puts pressure on the Bush Administration to either allow the important environmental measure to take effect or, once again, block an effort to combat greenhouse gases.
California has a unique status under the Clean Air Act — it can require more stringent requirements than other states (which are locked into a national standard on car emissions). Other states can then follow California. California wants to decrease tailpipe emissions from cars, trucks and sports utility vehicles — setting new standards in 2004. The industry sued to block or at least delay the process. They can be expected to launch an appeal in a further effort to delay the standards.
Notably, the Bush administration did nothing to support the state and would not discuss whether it would grant the needed waiver to allow the standards to take effect. The suspicion is that the Administration was hoping that a court would allow it to avoid the embarrassing prospect of again blocking major environmental reform. This forced California and other states to sue the agency in November to force the EPA to act.
The court rejected the industry’s argument that it was the federal government’s responsibility to establish one uniform fuel economy standard. For a comparison of federal and California standards, click here
With its denial, the Bush Administration has confirmed its dubious legacy as the biggest example of “industry capture” in history. The Administration has prevented meaningful reductions on both the international and domestic levels as international scientists have become increasingly alarmed at a global crisis. For years, Bush relied on his own dubious scientific knowledge to reject the conclusions of his own EPA experts in the area. Now, he seems eager to portray a willingness to act but no real action has occurred.
The great irony is that the national clean air act was created to force states to adopt uniform standards after state legislators routinely yielded to special interests. The California exception reflected a view that this was uniformity in the floor of the limits and that the act would allow “good” states to pursue more aggressive measures to deliver clean air to their citizens. The Administration is now using the law to force down the standard and resist cleaner air — the very opposite of the act’s stated purpose.
For the full story, click here