Tag Archives: automakers

Schwarzenegger, Brown Finally Sue EPA Over Tailpipe Emissions Waiver

It was scheduled to happen the week of the SoCal wildfires, but events intervened.  Now, California is poised to sue the federal government over the EPA’s failure to grant a waiver to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

Schwarzenegger and Brown plan to file a lawsuit asking a federal court to order the Bush administration to decide whether to approve California’s landmark law requiring automakers to gradually reduce tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions linked to global warming.

“California has a long and proud history of leadership in reducing pollution and fighting for clean air for our residents,” Schwarzenegger said in a statement yesterday. “And we are upholding that tradition by filing a lawsuit against the federal government that takes a big step forward in the battle against global warming.”

Under federal law, California must receive an EPA waiver to implement emissions standards tougher than federal levels.

But even if they prevail in court, California leaders are pessimistic that they will secure the waiver from the Bush administration, which has been slow to acknowledge warnings that human-caused global warming is a serious threat to the planet.

“Realistically, we think the chances are slim,” said Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board. “We’ve made the case on the merits. We’re right on the law. Somehow or the other politics will intervene. We just don’t know where or how.”

The strategy here has been to slow-walk the decision to avoid the negative consequences of disallowing broadly popular legislation.  It should be noted that the EPA has NEVER in its history failed to grant a waiver of this kind for tighter air pollution control laws.  There’s not even any standing for denying the waiver under the Clean Air Act, which only should occur if the regulations are not “technologically feasible.”  Considering that people are making 150mpg conversions in their garages, that’s just patently absurd.  Automakers in this country are killing themselves slowly by refusing to adapt to the needs and desires of consumers.  If they persist, states should be allowed to recognize the impact on their own air quality and demand a shift.

This is going to be a long fight, but eventually, we will get this law.

Legal Wins And Losses On Global Warming

Jerry Brown’s effort to sue automakers for the production greenhouse gas emissions through their vehicles, a holdover from Bill Lockyer’s tenure, has been thrown out of court.

In its lawsuit filed last year, California blamed the auto industry for millions of dollars it expects to spend on repairing damage from global-warming induced floods and other natural disasters.

But District Judge Martin Jenkins in San Francisco handed California Attorney General Jerry Brown’s environmental crusade a stinging rebuke when he ruled that it impossible to determine to what extent automakers are responsible for global-warming damages in California. Many culprits, including other industries and even natural sources, are responsible for emitting carbon dioxide.

“The court is left without guidance in determining what is an unreasonable contribution to the sum of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere, or in determining who should bear the costs associated with global climate change that admittedly result from multiple sources around the globe,” Jenkins write.

The judge also ruled that keeping the lawsuit alive would threaten the country’s foreign policy position.

I didn’t know that judges were responsible for managing foreign policy decisions, but Jenkins also did say that it’s the responsibility of lawmakers and not the courts to “determine how responsible automakers are for global warming problems.”  To that end, another lawsuit that would allow lawmakers to do just that, to hold automakers responsible by mandating a curtailing of the greenhouse gas emissions their vehicles spew, has won a major victory (over):

A federal judge in Vermont gave the first legal endorsement yesterday to rules in California, being copied in 13 other states, that intend to reduce greenhouse gases emitted by automobiles and light trucks.

Ruling in a lawsuit against Vermont’s standards on those heat-trapping gases, the judge, William K. Sessions III, rejected a variety of challenges from auto manufacturers, including their contention that the states were usurping federal authority.

The ruling follows a decision by the United States Supreme Court in April that the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to regulate heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide as air pollutants. The ruling in Vermont explicitly endorses the idea that California has the right to set its own regulations on the gases, and that other states, like Vermont, have the right to follow its lead.

The Vermont ruling merely follows the Supreme Court precedent, albeit to devastating effect.  The California case is pending, but it would be hard to see how the ruling could be any different.  Now it’s time for the EPA to allow the waiver that would enable the tailpipe emissions law to go into effect.  With even the White House Science Adviser acknowledging the man-made causes of global warming, it’s beyond time for the Cheney-Bush Administration to give states back the ability to manage their own air quality standards and contribution to climate change.  This lawsuit adds to the pressure on the EPA.

As a side note, last week Jerry Brown reached a settlement with Conoco-Phillips that would require the company to spend $10 million to offset the emissions created by their East Bay refinery expansion.

Brown told a news conference that the accord is believed to be the first time an oil refinery in the country has agreed to mitigate increased carbon emissions from an expansion project.

Brown is definitely using every option at his disposal in this fight.