Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Update on EPA cargate scandal: Bush offers up two EPA staffers (without counsel) for Waxman interviews

There was a lot of obvious activity last week in the Senate as Senator Boxer’s committee attempted to grill EPA Administrator Steve Johnson on the cargate scandal. (The questioning, by the way, was not particularly sharp. I don’t recall that anyone asked the most obvious question to Stonewall Steve: who within the EPA recommended that you reject California’s request to enforce its greenhouse gas standards for motor vehicles? Name that person.)

Meanwhile, however, the investigation is proceeding more quietly, and perhaps more effectively, in the House.

This morning, Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, announced that the Bush administration is bending – at least slightly – in response to Waxman’s own investigation of this scandal.

You may recall that Waxman earlier said he wanted his committee staff to interview seven EPA staffers without the presence of Bush administration lawyers, who would be expected to try muddling up the interview process.
http://oversight.house.gov/documents/20080114102209.pdf

The Bush administration has been balking at producing these witnesses without government lawyers present. And so Waxman was preparing to have his committee vote to issue formal subpoenas to the seven EPA staffers. (I suspect he could win such a vote pretty easily.)

At a committee meeting this morning, however, Waxman said he was postponing a vote on subpoenas for now – because the Bush administration has agreed to permit two of the seven EPA staffers to be interviewed without lawyers present. The fate of the other five EPA staffers apparently remains under negotiation.

This is a little like peeling away layers of a foul smelling onion. The stench at the center really is enough to make one cry.

Big oil visits White House in apparent bid to kneecap tougher smog standards

Well, friends, the clock is ticking. (No, we’re not talking about the Florida primaries, or “Super Tuesday” for that matter.)

It’s only about six weeks until the US EPA announces whether it plans to set tougher national health standards for ozone, or smog. That means it’s time for the White House to focus on the issue, which pits scientists (and kids with asthma) against the biggest and nastiest polluters.

The health evidence is overwhelming that tougher smog standards are needed to protect kids with asthma and many millions of other Americans. That is the unanimous conclusion of EPA’s independent scientific advisers.

And so – as it so often happens – representatives of big polluters have started going to the White House in an apparent big to kneecap any effort to make existing standards better.

The White House Office of Management and Budget records that several oil industry consultants came to pay a visit January 25. (See below.)

Anne Smith of CRA International is recorded to have represented the American Petroleum Institute, which has gone on record against tougher smog standards.

Teresa Gorman of LPI Consulting (once a White House environmental adviser in the first Bush administration) is listed as representing “Bingham McCuthen.” That is probably a typo.

Gorman also happens to be a registered lobbyist for Bingham McCutchen – and represents ExxonMobil on “clean air regulatory issues,” according to lobbying disclosure reports! Gorman has also visited the White House on other occasions representing ExxonMobil. You do have to wonder if there was some effort here at deception, since ExxonMobil is never mentioned. Perhaps just a clerical error.

I predict this will be the first of many White House visits as big polluters try to smogify the issue.

Note, by the way, the link below to a separate White House meeting that included corn and tobacco growers. The topic is not disclosed, though it seems pretty intriguing.

**
Link to oil industry meeting at White House:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/oira/2000/meetings/692.html

Meeting Record Regarding: Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards
Date: 1/25/2008
-->
Name
Affiliation
Client (if applicable) -->
Art Fraas
OMB/OIRA

Heidi King
OMB/OIRA

Margo Schwab
OMB/OIRA

Teresa Gorman
LPI
Bingham McCuthen
Anne Smith
CRA International
API
Lydia Wegman
EPA

Harvey Richmond
EPA


**
Link to meeting with corn and tobacco growers.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/oira/2000/meetings/691.html

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Note to polluter defenders of EPA chief Johnson: internal documents confirm EPA staff urged he ok California ghg standards

Senator Barbara Boxer started today to peel away the coverup over the Bush administration decision to kill California's greenhouse gas standards for motor vehicles. She revealed notes her staff took on documents the EPA has tried to withhold from Congress.

More at
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/01/23/politics/politico/thecrypt/main3743809.shtml

It will be interesting when EPA chief Steve Johnson appears tomorrow before Boxer's committee.

How will he lie his way out of this one?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

WHITEOUT: a full-blown Bush cover-up over California greenhouse gas rejection

We have been accustomed to the Bush EPA releasing bad information on a Friday, and now they’ve done it again – on a holiday weekend, no less.

In this case, they’ve gone into full cover-up mode over the agency’s political decision to reject California’s attempt to enforce its greenhouse gas standards for motor vehicles.

Yes, they’ve whited out key portions of critical documents sought by a Senate committee, and invoked “executive privilege” as an excuse. http://www.mercurynews.com/breakingnews/ci_8011598?nclick_check=1

Yes, the same excuse used by President Nixon in the Watergate scandal, more recently by the Bush administration over Vice President Cheney’s secret meetings with energy executives, and even more recently in the U.S. attorney firing scandal.

“EPA is concerned about the chilling effect that would occur if agency employees believed their frank and honest opinions and analysis expressed as part of assessing California's waiver request were to be disclosed in a broad setting," EPA's associate administrator Christopher P. Bliley wrote.

This is, of course, absolute baloney. Chilling effect!

EPA chief Steve Johnson has taken on the role of Batman villain “Mr. Freeze” in this ugly saga: he froze his own experts out of the decision process. (I hope you appreciate the irony that Mr. Freeze was portrayed in the movie “Batman and Robin” by Arnold Schwarzenegger, who really got the cold shoulder by Johnson in this case.)

Senator Barbara Boxer was not amused: http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Majority.PressReleases&ContentRecord_id=8f96fee1-802a-23ad-434c-0a43b964837e&Designation=Majority

It should be quite a show when Johnson appears before Boxer on January 24. http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Hearings.Hearing&Hearing_ID=8a7a0a80-802a-23ad-44b4-a1d4f1b4cc15

The long witness list also includes Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, indefatigable legal expert David Doniger of NRDC, and former EPA air chief Jeffrey Holmstead.

Will Johnson continue lying about things like the phony “patchwork” line he borrowed from the car companies? Will he continue trying to pretend that the California standards somehow would require the car companies to do less than the new federal fuel economy standards? Or will he perhaps take the Fifth Amendment when not following his usual practice of repeating prepared remarks and evading questions?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Obama coal connection: Nevada adviser is a big coal promoter


Presidential candidate Barack Obama caused a commotion last year by promoting the controversial idea of turning coal into liquid fuel. The idea was controversial because the process could produce more global warming pollution.

Obama appeared to back off somewhat following criticism that liquid coal would undermine his own position (shared by Hillary Clinton and John Edwards) that global warming pollution should be reduced. Many of us wrote it off as a rookie mistake.

But now, with the Nevada caucuses looming, the Obama-coal connection has resurfaced. It involves the role of a big Nevada adviser to Obama who is also heavily promoting coal. (The issue is very relevant in Nevada, which has become a poster child in the fight over America’s energy future – fossil fuels versus renewable energy. Several large coal-burning electric power plants have been proposed, to the consternation of environmental groups and numerous other critics including nurses, hunters, etc.)

Enter Obama adviser Billy Vassiliadis, the CEO and Principal of R&R Partners, the firm responsible for managing the second most recognizable brand in the world, Las Vegas, creating the famous "What Happens Here, Stays Here" slogan. http://www.gwu.edu/~action/2008/obama/obamaorgnv.html

But his firm ALSO represents Sierra Pacific Resources, which wants to build a new coal-burning plant in Nevada. R&R also is the PR and advertising firm for a coal industry front group called Americans for Balanced Energy Choices http://www.americaspower.org/ , which is advertising heavily in Nevada. (This coal group is spending like a drunken sailor; it’s hard to miss all its spots on CNN and during presidential debates, including in Nevada.)

http://64.233.169.104/search?q=cache:OcgIdnBObrsJ:www.lasvegassun.com/blogs/news/2008/jan/14/find-pollster/+%22americans+for+balanced+energy+choices%22+and+R%26R+Partners&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us

These “Americans” include big coal interests such as Peabody Energy, Southern Company, Duke Energy, American Electric Power, CSX Railroad and many others. http://www.americaspower.org/Who-We-Are/ABEC-Supporters

The question some environmentalists are asking: how does Obama reconcile his platform with some of his people? Isn’t he at least a wee bit uncomfortable about this?

Interestingly, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which has endorsed Obama, also published a fairly snide editorial this week – attacking the Sierra Club, raising doubts about global warming, and citing Americans for Balanced Energy Choices. http://www.lvrj.com/opinion/13832762.html You gotta give R&R points for being effective.

Groups to EPA: drop that irresponsible idea of eliminating lead air standard


As I promised earlier this week, a broad coalition lead by NRDC and including Clean Air Watch and the American Lung Association has officially commented on EPA’s “advanced notice” about what to do about lead pollution in the air.

As we have noted on many occasions, EPA has floated a thoroughly irresponsible idea of eliminating the standard altogether. In fact, the science shows quite clearly that the existing standard needs to be made stricter.


The comments reiterate that the current standard should be made much tougher.

Given that exposure to lead can damage the brains of children, why is EPA even considering doing away with the standard? The usual reason, of course: special-interest polluters urged the agency to do this: http://www.epa.gov/ttnnaaqs/battery.pdf (The Battery Council International is a trade group of smelters, lead battery makers, distributors, and suppliers: http://www.batterycouncil.org/about.html )

Is this an academic issue? Far from it.

Note story below from Associated Press this week from Missouri, where one smelting company is having trouble meeting the inadequate current standards. No wonder this group would like to abolish the standards altogether. (Side note: if the standards were abolished, the state would also probably take away the existing air pollution monitor, which is there because of current regulatory requirements. In fact, ALL the lead monitors would disappear, so we would never know if current problems get worse.)

Missouri moms, take note: do you really want to put your kids at risk?


**
ST. LOUIS, January 15 (AP) _ The Doe Run Company said it is making progress toward an April goal of meeting the federal standard for emissions from its lead smelter in Herculaneum, Missouri.

Doe Run said this week it met the national air quality standard for lead in the fourth quarter.
For the year, however, Doe Run was out of compliance two quarters for the air monitor closest to the smelter.
The company is taking steps to reduce emissions as part of a federally required plan with Missouri. Manager Gary Hughes said he expects Doe Run will meet those goals this year.
The plan was required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to achieve acceptable air quality in the eastern Missouri town.
Solutions include upgrades to Doe Run's baghouses and automated internal controls, the collection of air at various plant locations, and installation of improved air-filtering technology.
Plans also call for more efficient building enclosures, a redesigned concentrated ore receiving process and new high-efficiency street sweepers to sweep roads in the plant and on trucking haul routes within Herculaneum.
All measures must be in place by April with the goal of bringing Doe Run's smelter into attainment with the current lead standard, said John Rustige, environmental engineer with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Any high levels of emissions thereafter could result in penalties, DNR said.
The EPA currently is reviewing the federal standard for lead concentrations in the air. A new standard could force St. Louis and other major cities to make adjustments.
The EPA is under court order to complete its review of the federal standard by September.
The Herculaneum plant is the nation's only primary lead smelter, meaning it turns lead ore into lead metal. Secondary smelters recycle lead like that from batteries.
Nagging lead emission problems prompted Doe Run, beginning in 2002, to buy out more than 100 nearby residential properties.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Romney aides involved in cynical polluter front group


An interesting twist to the presidential campaign, as candidate Mitt Romney
takes swings at pending global warming legislation and makes incoherent
comments about car fuel efficiency standards.

It turns out that people with ties to the former Mass. Gov. are heavily
involved in a cynical and dirty front group which calls itself the American
Environmental Coalition. http://www.americanenvironmental.org/

This group is a who's who of people who consider themselves right-wing DC
power brokers, including Grover Norquist, Paul Weyrich and Gary Bauer. As
we've read in the press in recent days, some of these folks want to knee cap
Senator John McCain. No wonder!!!

Gary Marx (President of Principium Consulting Inc) registered the domain
and is listed as the contact for americanenvironmental.org when performing a "whois" search.


"*Gary Marx*, the current exec. dir of the Judicial Confirmation
Network and formerly the Bush-Cheney campaign's chief staff liaison to
social conservatives, will join Gov. Mitt Romney's PAC as an adviser, a
Romney aide said." (The Hotline, 12/21/06)

"*Gary Marx* is the conservative coalitions director for the Romney
Campaign and held the same job for Bush/Cheney as well as for the Alito
and Robert's confirmation." (Mymanmitt.com, 1/3/08)

" . . .says *Gary Marx*, who is charged with handling conservative
outreach for Romney." (The Politico, 2/20/07)

Jay Sekulow is an AEC Board Member. Jay is a consultant to the Romney
campaign. Jay's son, Jordan, is a Romney staffer.

*Documentation of Jay Sekulow's role in the Romney campaign:
*
"*Jay Sekulow* . . . has endorsed Romney and will serve as an
adviser." (The Hotline, 12/21/06)

" . . . *Jay Sekulow*, the co-chair of Mitt Romney's Faith and
Values Coalition." (Townhall.com, 1/3/08)

"Serving as a Chair of the National Faith and Values Steering
Committee, noted Constitutional Attorney and Supreme Court Advocate *Jay
Sekulow* . . . " (Mittromney.com, 6/13/07)

News notes: which ex-governor boasted of representing polluters against tougher smog standards? And more...

Often we see politicians fronting for special interests…but not always do they actually headline that fact! But it’s happened with the ongoing behind-the-scenes struggle over EPA’s national smog standards. Read on for more on this… why we’re alarmed about a possible EPA move to kill lead standards… the hypocrisy of some big companies on global warming, and more.

**

Smoggy stories: One of the biggest, yet least publicized environmental stories of the year is the US EPA’s ongoing review of national health standards for ozone, or smog. EPA Administrator Steve Johnson is under court order to make a decision by March. But interest groups have been pouring on the pressure in the last few weeks in an effort to block or minimize any changes. The big polluter lobby, the National Association of Manufacturers (which, as a diversionary tactic, appears to have declared war on Clean Air Watch along with other progressives like California AG Jerry Brown http://blog.nam.org/archives/2008/01/the_rhetoric_of.php), has been stirring up various governors against tougher standards.

Usually they don’t admit they’re fronting for industry, but an ex-gov did: former North Carolina Governor James Martin. Martin, once a chemistry professor, argued that cleaning up smog might be costly for industry. (In the process, of course, he was arguing for EPA to do something illegal, since the Supreme Court has noted that EPA cannot take costs into consideration in setting these standards.) Johnson, of course, appears comfortable with doing things of dubious legality, as we learned when he rejected California’s request to enforce its vehicle standards for greenhouse gases. Another notable ex-pol making a similar do-something-illegal pitch was former House Majority Leader Dick Armey.

**

Lead lining: Another battle is taking place over a national air standard – this one involves lead. As we noted last December, http://blogforcleanair.blogspot.com/2007_12_01_archive.html
the Bush administration has suggested – all scientific evidence to the contrary – that it might keep the too-weak current standard, or eliminate the standard altogether! (Why is it bad to have lead in paint or imported toys, but ok to have it in the air?) The public comment closes tomorrow on EPA’s trial lead balloon. We support efforts by our friends at NRDC, who are spearheading efforts to urge EPA to drop this obviously foolish idea of abandoning the lead standard.

**
Corporate hypocrisy: As we noted last month, http://blogforcleanair.blogspot.com/2007_12_01_archive.html
the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has begun running commercials attacking the so-called Lieberman-Warner climate legislation. Friends tell us this commercial is running not just on Youtube http://www.uschamber.com/press/ads/advocate_climatechange.htm but is also showing up in presidential primary states and in some airports.

One of the more interesting features of this trash talk is the fact that the Chamber’s board of directors includes officials from various companies that are ALSO part of the do-something-about-global warming coalition called US Climate Action Partnership, or USCAP http://www.us-cap.org/ Noteworthy members of both include General Electric, Duke Energy, Caterpillar, and Dow Chemical. Do these companies not know that their chamber dues are going to attack ads? Or are they simply hypocrites?

**
General Electric, of course, has been the epitome of hypocrisy in slowing up plans by the US EPA to set new pollution standards for diesel trains and medium-sized diesel ships. http://blogforcleanair.blogspot.com/2007/02/hypocritical-ge-lobbies-against.html. Final EPA standards are languishing now at the White House Office of Management and Budget. http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/eoViewRule?ruleID=281682 Every day of delay means more kids will get sick from this stuff. We encourage the White House to let EPA move forward immediately to put new standards into effect – and hope that GE has a change of heart. Our friends at Environmental Defense should have move on the health effects angle shortly.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Waxman to EPA: we want to depose key EPA figures in the California emissions scandal

The stakes are building as the EPA has failed to deliver on time documents sought by Rep. Henry Waxman. As you will recall, EPA Administrator Steve Johnson rejected California’s request to enforce the state’s greenhouse gas standards despite legal and technical recommendations by agency staff to the contrary.

Now Waxman, understandably miffed at the Bush stall-ball, wants to start deposing people inside the agency who may know the truth.

More at
http://oversight.house.gov/story.asp?ID=1681

The letter at
http://oversight.house.gov/documents/20080114102209.pdf

Friday, January 11, 2008

Who's advising the presidential candidates on the environment?

(from Inside EPA Clean Air Report)

Former Top EPA Officials Play Key Advisory Roles In Presidential Races

Former top EPA officials who served in both the Bush and Clinton administrations are playing key roles advising major candidates in both the Democratic and Republican primaries, positions that often result in appointments if the candidates eventually win election.

On the Democratic side, Clinton-era Deputy EPA Administrator Robert Sussman is advising Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), while former EPA Administrator Carol Browner and Peter Robertson, who served as Browner's chief of staff and acting deputy administrator, are advising Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY).

On the Republican side, Jeffrey Holmstead, the EPA air chief during President Bush's first term, is advising former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA), according to an informed source.

Jason Grumet, who runs the bipartisan National Commission on Energy Policy, is leading the Obama energy and environment policy team.

Additionally, President Clinton's White House Chief of Staff John Podesta, who now runs the Center for American Progress (CAP), is helping Sen. Clinton, while former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD), a CAP fellow, is an active Obama supporter....

Sussman, who retired from the Latham & Watkins law firm Dec. 31 after heading its environmental practice for a decade, declined to comment on why he chose to support Obama over Clinton. Obama drew criticisms last year when he took contributions from Sussman -- at the time a registered lobbyist -- even though Obama has promised not to accept donations from lobbyists. Sussman later dropped his lobbying registration...

On the Republican side, Holmstead -- now a partner at Bracewell & Guliani -- is advising the Mitt Romney campaign, according to an informed source. Holmstead could not be reached for comment and has not donated any money in the 2008 presidential campaign, according to campaign finance records.

But the source says that Holmstead, despite working for Romney rival Rudy Guliani’s law firm, is supporting Romney because “they are good friends.”

Also advising Romney on energy and environment issues, according to the source, is former Cheney energy task force director Andrew Lundquist as well as American Chemistry Council President Jack Gerard, both of whom have donated money to Romney’s campaign this year.

At the same time, David Conover, a former Energy Department deputy assistant secretary during the current Bush administration, is advising John McCain on energy and environmental issues. And several scholars with the American Enterprise Institute are working with Guiliani and McCain on carbon taxes, a source there says.

It is unclear who is advising Mike Hukabee, who has stated that he supports a cap on carbon emissions and who one source notes distinguishes himself from most of the rest of the Republican field by talking about climate change as a stand-alone issue, rather than as part of energy security.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Polluter lobby attacks Clean Air Watch

The polluter lobby is rising in defense of the hypocritical head of the EPA:

http://blog.nam.org/archives/2008/01/religious_bigot.php

This crowd has been working hard to influence the next big decision due from EPA: national health standards for ozone, or smog.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Stanford scientist: more carbon dioxide means more death

This is a pretty interesting study which undercuts the claims of the Bush administration's EPA and its current political hack administrator.

http://news-service.stanford.edu/news/2008/january9/co-010908.html

and http://www.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/CO2PapGRL1207.pdf

California: EPA chief is all wet; Cal ghg rules would do more than fuel economy requirements

California's Air Resources Board has weighed in with specifics on why the state's greenhouse gas standards would be better for the environment than the new federal fuel economy requirements. Details at http://www.arb.ca.gov/cc/ccms/ab1493_v_cafe_study.pdf

In other words, EPA chief Steve Johnson was dead wrong in trying to pretend the federal standards were better.

News notes: How Bush EPA uses misleading car company rhetoric to dupe neophyte reporters

It is both interesting – and a little depressing -- to watch how the Bush administration has adopted misleading car company rhetoric in rejecting California’s greenhouse gas standards – and how neophyte reporters keep getting duped.

A case in point: for years the car companies have been agitating against California’s vehicle standards, contending they would lead to a “patchwork” of state standards. (See detailed references below.) EPA chief Steve Johnson embraced the “patchwork” line in rejecting California’s request to enforce the standards.

“Patchwork,” of course, is a completely inaccurate word in this context. (See, for instance, at http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/patchwork)

Under the Clean Air Act, there are only two possible standards for motor vehicles: federal standards, and potentially tougher California standards, which by law other states are permitted to adopt. (And in reality, California standards historically have paved the way for tougher national standards.) That’s hardly the makings of a quilt.

And yet the “patchwork” phrase keeps getting picked up, often uncritically, by some in the major media. Consider, for example, today’s Washington Post, which notes, without quotations or any qualifier, that “In denying the waiver this time, EPA Director Stephen L. Johnson said following a single federal policy rather than having a confusing patchwork of state laws would be a more efficient way to combat global warming.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/02/AR2008010202833.html

You’d think the Post would do better – given that reporter Juliet Eilperin earlier broke the news that Johnson had rejected the views of his technical and legal team, which concluded that California should receive the waiver and that rejecting it was probably illegal! But Eilperin has been dispatched to cover the presidential campaign, and the story was passed off to a reporter who apparently hasn’t covered it before, and so was easy pickings for the Bush dupe machine. But where are the Post editors?

In sharp contrast, note that New York Times reporter Felicity Barringer put the Bush/car company bs into proper context by noting that California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols “pointed out, in a telephone news conference, that the Clean Air Act did not permit a patchwork of individual state regulations; it permits California to have independent rules on air pollutants, and permits other states to choose between the federal standards or more stringent standards set by California.” http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/03/us/03suit.html

Thank you, Felicity!

**


Johnson quote in EPA press release announcing waiver denial:

"The Bush Administration is moving forward with a clear national solution - not a confusing patchwork of state rules - to reduce America's climate footprint from vehicles."

Johnson’s propagandists repeated the “patchwork” baloney in a statement yesterday after California and 15 other states sued.

In doing this, the Bush administration simply adopted the patchwork language used previously by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers:

"The U.S. Congress reserved the issue of regulating vehicle fuel economy to the federal government to balance all sectors of the economy and to avoid a patchwork quilt of state regulations which hurt businesses and, perhaps more importantly, consumers. It is a simple fact. This regulation is federally preempted."
Fred Webber, AAM, before the CARB, 9/23/04

"In this light, a patchwork of state-level fuel economy regulations, as is now proposed by California, is not simply unnecessary, it's patently counterproductive."
Steven Douglas, AAM, before the USEPA, 5/22/07

"The regulation of greenhouse gas emissions therefore requires a coordinated national approach rather than a patchwork of state approaches. This is especially true for the automobile industry where Congress - through the preemption provisions of EPCA and the Clean Air Act - has recognized the need for a uniform, nationwide approach for standards that impact the design and manufacture of automobiles."
Ellen Gleberman, AAM, Submitted to EPA Docket, 6/15/07

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

California, other states go to court to overturn bad EPA decision on global warming

The New Year is starting off with a bang as California and a number of other states head to court today to fight the US EPA’s decision to reject California’s greenhouse gas standards for motor vehicles.

As you know, the Bush administration rejected California’s request even though EPA’s attorneys thought doing so would be found illegal by the courts. It’s just the latest example of the administration’s arrogant disregard for the law when it comes to environmental protection.

EPA chief Steve Johnson should have resigned rather than take a step his own lawyers said was probably illegal. (Steve, it’s not too late….)

We believe, as did EPA’s attorneys, that California and the other states eventually will win. But the Bush crowd has won a delay for the auto industry. And we hapless taxpayers will have to pay to defend the “United States of America” in this case.

Here is from Gov. Schwarzenegger's office:

For Immediate Release: Contact: Aaron McLear
Wednesday, January 2, 2008 Bill Maile
916-445-4571

Governor Schwarzenegger Announces EPA Suit Filed to Reverse Waiver Denial

Governor Schwarzenegger issued the following statement on California filing suit today against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) to overturn its decision denying a waiver to enforce state regulations to limit greenhouse gas emissions from cars:

"It is unconscionable that the federal government is keeping California and nineteen other states from adopting these standards. They are ignoring the will of millions of people who want their government to take action in the fight against global warming. That's why, at the very first legal opportunity, we're suing to reverse the U.S. EPA's wrong decision. California has always been a leader in protecting the environment, and we will do everything in our power to continue that proud tradition."

The lawsuit was filed today in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Over the past 40 years, the U.S. EPA has granted California more than 40 waivers, denying none. More than a dozen other states are expected to file a motion to intervene in support of California's lawsuit, including Massachusetts and New York.

Under the Federal Clean Air Act, California has the right to set its own tougher-than-federal vehicle emission standards, as long as it obtains a waiver from the U.S. EPA.

The original request for a waiver of federal preemption of California's motor vehicle greenhouse gas emissions standards was made by the California Air Resources Board (ARB) on December 21, 2005. The waiver, allowing California to enact and enforce emissions standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles, was requested after the ARB developed regulations based on a 2002 California law, AB 1493 by Assemblymember Fran Pavley.

That law required California to establish new standards for motor vehicle greenhouse gas emissions beginning in model year 2009. The ARB-adopted regulations will phase in and ramp up over eight years to cut global warming emissions from new vehicles by nearly 30 percent by model year 2016.

By implementing these standards, California would be eliminating greenhouse gases equivalent to taking 6.5 million cars off the road by the year 2020. If all the other states with similar plans follow through, that figure would grow to more than 22 million vehicles and would cut gasoline consumption by an estimated 11 billion or more gallons a year.

In letters sent on April 10, 2006, and October 24, 2006, to President Bush, the Governor reiterated the urgency of approving California's request to address global warming. On April 25, 2007, 16 months after the original waiver request, Governor Schwarzenegger sent a letter to Administrator Johnson informing him of California's intent to sue after 180 days under the Clean Air Act and Administrative Procedure Act, which provides mechanisms for compelling delayed agency action.

California's request has been supported by recent judicial decisions. In September, a court decision in Vermont confirmed that states do have the ability to adopt California's motor vehicle greenhouse gas emissions standards. Sixteen states, comprising about 45 percent of all U.S. auto sales have adopted, or are in the process of adopting, California's standards.

In the Vermont case, the judge dismissed the argument by automobile manufacturers that they could not comply with the California-based regulation because the technology was out of reach and that it would cost too much. The Vermont decision came on the heels of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last April saying the U.S. EPA has the authority to regulate greenhouse gases.

Last month, a federal court in Fresno issued a ruling that re-confirms states' ability to set motor vehicle greenhouse gas emissions standards, modeled after California's strict regulations.

States that have adopted, or are in the process of adopting, California's strict automobile emissions standards are: Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont and Washington.