Lead or Step Aside, EPA
It's bad enough that the federal government has yet to take the threat of global warming seriously, but it borders on malfeasance for it to block the efforts of states such as California and Connecticut that are trying to protect the public's health and welfare.
California, Connecticut and 10 other states are poised to enact tailpipe emissions standards -- tougher than existing federal requirements -- that would cut greenhouse gas emissions from cars, light trucks and sport-utility vehicles by 392 million metric tons by the year 2020, the equivalent to taking 74 million of today's cars off the road for an entire year.
Since transportation accounts for one-third of America's greenhouse gas emissions, enacting these standards would be a huge step forward in our efforts to clean the environment and would show the rest of the world that our nation is serious about fighting global warming.
Yet for the past 16 months, the Environmental Protection Agency has refused to give us permission to do so.
Another discouraging sign came just last week, when President Bush issued an executive order to give federal agencies until the end of 2008 to continue studying the threat of greenhouse gas emissions and determine what can be done about them.
To us, that again sounds like more of the same inaction and denial, and it is unconscionable.
Under the Clean Air Act, California has the right to enact its own air pollution standards, which other states may then follow, as long as the EPA grants California a waiver. The waiver gives California, and other states, formal permission to deviate from federal standards. California has requested more than 40 such waivers over the past 30 years and has been granted full or partial permission for most of them.
By continuing to stonewall California's request, the federal government is blocking the will of tens of millions of people in California, Connecticut and other states who want their government to take real action on global warming.
The EPA is finally holding the first of two hearings on the waiver request tomorrow, and we welcome the opportunity to call attention to the harmful effects that global warming is having on people and the environment.
But we are far from convinced that the agency intends to follow the law and grant us our waiver.
If it fails to do so, we have an obligation to take legal action and settle this issue once and for all.