Friday, February 29, 2008

EPA Signs FR Notice & Releases Documents On CA Waiver Denial

Feb 29: U.S. EPA has posted documents on its website explaining its rationale for the Agency's decision to deny California's waiver request for its greenhouse gas (GHG) standards for motor vehicles [See WIMS 1/2/08]. The documents will soon be published in the Federal Register (FR). On January 24, 2008, U.S. EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson testified before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Chaired by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), on his decision to deny the California waiver request [See WIMS 1/23/08]. The waiver would have allowed California and 16 other states to adopt the California-equivalent rules to curb GHG emission from vehicles.

At that time Johnson said he made the decision fully by himself after receiving input from staff, the public and others and reviewing available information. He said he was comfortable with his decision and repeatedly said it was the "right" decision. He said that EPA would complete submitting information to Congress by February 15, 2008, and indicated that he anticipated a full California denial document, explaining the decision, would be published in the Federal Register by the end of February. Until now the only official denial has been a letter to California dated December 19, 2007, setting forth EPA's intent to deny the waiver in favor of a national solution for vehicle greenhouse-gas emissions. The documents posted by EPA include an officially signed, 47-page Federal Register Notice Denying a Waiver of Clean Air Act Preemption for California's 2009 and Subsequent Model Year Greenhouse Gas Emission Standards for New Motor Vehicles.

On January 2, 2008, California Attorney General Edmund Brown Jr., on behalf of the State of California, filed its lawsuit against U.S. EPA for “wrongfully and illegally” blocking the State's landmark tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) standards. Brown filed the lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit to challenge the EPA’s denial of California's request to implement its emissions law -- which requires a 30 percent reduction in motor vehicle GHG emissions by 2016. Simultaneously, five nonprofit groups -- the Conservation Law Foundation, Environmental Defense, International Center for Technology Assessment, Natural Resources Defense Counsel (NRDC) and the Sierra Club -- also filed a lawsuit challenging the EPA decision. 15 states have also filed a motion to intervene in support of California [See WIMS 1/3/08].

According to the prepublication copy of the signed Federal Register announcement, "Under section 209(b) of the Clean Air Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. ' 7543(b), the Environmental Protection Agency denies the California Air Resources Board’s request for a waiver of the Clean Air Act’s prohibition on adopting and enforcing its greenhouse gas emission standards as they affect 2009 and later model year new motor vehicles. This decision is based on the Administrator’s finding that California does not need its greenhouse gas standards for new motor vehicles to meet compelling and extraordinary conditions."

The notice explains further, "While I [Administrator Stephen Johnson] recognize that global climate change is a serious challenge, I have concluded that section 209(b) was intended to allow California to promulgate state standards applicable to emissions from new motor vehicles to address pollution problems that are local or regional. I do not believe section 209(b)(1)(B) was intended to allow California to promulgate state standards for emissions from new motor vehicles designed to address global climate change problems; nor, in the alternative, do I believe that the effects of climate change in California are compelling and extraordinary compared to the effects in the rest of the country. Based on this finding, pursuant to section 209(b)(1) of the Clean Air Act (Act), CARB’s [California Air Resources Board’s] waiver request for its GHG standards for new motor vehicles must be denied. Because my finding regarding section 209(b)(1)(B) must, and is sufficient to, result in a denial of California’s waiver request, it is unnecessary for me to determine whether the criteria for denial of a waiver under sections 209(b)(1)(A) and (C) have been met. I therefore will not address these criteria in this decision."

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, issued a statement on EPA's "decision document" released saying, "It is shocking that even though the whole world now knows that the professional staff at EPA strongly urged Mr. Johnson to grant California's waiver, he completely walked away from his advisors, the science, and precedent, and did the bidding of the special interests instead. This decision is especially disappointing and incomprehensible because the Administrator's position will not stand up in court, and the Presidential candidates have all said they will sign the waiver. It will only result in more delay in cleaning up our air and tackling the challenge of global warming." Boxer has been relentless in her pursuit of documents describing how Johnson made his decision. On January 26, she release a number of summary documents obtained and has instructed Johnson to provide all remaining records no later than March 5, 2008 [
See WIMS 2/27/08].

Access EPA's website for the posted documents related to the California GHG Waiver (
click here). Access the statement from Senator Boxer (click here). Access various WIMS eNewsUSA Blog posts on the waiver denial (click here). [*Climate,*Energy,*Air]