A battle Bush's EPA can't win

The Terminator and the EPA's own lawyers agree: The decision to deny California's right to restrict greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles is indefensible

By Andrew Leonard

Published December 20, 2007 11:04PM (EST)

As a Californian who watched, amazed and embarrassed, as Conan the Terminator was elected governor of my state, I think it's safe to say that I have not been one of his biggest fans.

But How the World Works has no problems with the statement Gov. Schwarzenegger released today, announcing his intention to file a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's denial of California's request for a tailpipe emissions waiver.

I am extremely disappointed by EPA's decision to block the will of millions of people in California and 16 other states who want us to take tough action against global warming.

EPA's denial of our waiver request to enact the nation's cleanest standards for vehicle emissions is legally indefensible and another example of the failure to treat climate change with the seriousness it demands.

We will sue to overturn this ruling as quickly as possible. I have no doubt that we will prevail because the law, science and the public's demand for leadership are on our side. Anything less than aggressive action is inexcusable.

Schwarzenegger's assertion that the EPA's decision is "legally indefensible" rests on solid ground. Because that's what the EPA's own staff lawyers believe! The Washington Post has a terrific front-page story today reporting how EPA administrator Stephen Johnson willfully ignored his own department's opinion that the EPA was bound to lose in court if it denied the waiver application.

The first two paragraphs alone are heady stuff: (italics mine)

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen L. Johnson yesterday denied California's petition to limit greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks, overruling the unanimous recommendation of the agency's legal and technical staffs.

The decision set in motion a legal battle that EPA's lawyers expect to lose and demonstrated the Bush administration's determination to oppose any mandatory measures specifically targeted at curbing global warming pollution. A total of 18 states, representing 45 percent of the nation's auto market, have either adopted or pledged to implement California's proposed tailpipe emissions rules, which seek to cut vehicles' greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent between 2009 and 2016.

The tip on the Washington Post story came from the blog Warming Law, your one-stop shop for comprehensive coverage of legal issues associated with global warming. Highly recommended.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger California Environment Global Warming Globalization How The World Works