Don’t expect action from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or the Bush administration on greenhouse gas emissions before this president’s term is up.
The Los Angeles Times reports today that EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson told Congress yesterday that he wants a long public comment period about potential risks before responding to a U.S. Supreme Court order.
As reported in Mealey’s Litigation Report: Pollution Liability, the high court last April ruled 5-4 that the EPA has authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new motor vehicles (Commonwealth of Massachusetts, et al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 05-1120, U.S. Sup.).
In 1999, 12 states, two cities and 13 groups asked the EPA to set regulatory standards under the CAA for four air pollutants — carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and hydrofluorocarbons —- emitted by motor vehicles that may endanger public health and welfare. The EPA declined, concluding in 2003 that it had no authority to regulate air pollutants associated with climate change and that the four substances were not pollutants under the CAA.
But Johnson informed key members of Congress in writing yesterday that before he acts, he wants a more expansive study that will include not just automobiles, but all industry sources of greenhouse gases, the Times reported. It said Sierra Club attorney David Bookbinder, a lead attorney in the case, will ask the Supremes to order the EPA to act within 60 days.
In another blow to environmentalists, the Times reported today that California’s Air Resources Board voted yesterday to cut by 70 percent the amount of electric and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles that automakers have to sell in the state in coming years, from 25,000 to 7,500.
The ARB did, however, call for increased production of hybrid cars and changes to its Zero Emission Vehicle program to bring it in line with California’s tough standards for greenhouse gases.
Link to the EPA story: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-greenhouse28mar28,0,301615.story?track=ntothtml
Link to the ARB story: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-zev28mar28,0,5008191.story?track=ntothtml