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Silliness from the EPA

Editorial for March 20, 2008

Silliness from the EPA

If the stakes weren't so high -- the fate of the planet -- last week's bizarre ruling by the Environmental Protection Agency would be laughable.

We've come to expect "politics over logic" from our federal government in the last few years, but we continue to be shocked by how far Bush administration officials will go.

Here's just another example: The state of California -- supported by the states of Washington, Oregon, and about a dozen others -- recently made what should have a reasonable request. The states petitioned the federal government for permission to implement greenhouse gas emission standards that would be stricter than what the federal government imposes.

Recently, California passed legislation that, by 2016, would have reduced automobile emissions by 30 percent in new cars and light trucks. But the federal government said "No!" to that: The EPA blocked California from setting its own standards, then released a lengthy document to justify the agency's stance.

Get ready, this is a doozy: According to the EPA, California cannot set tougher standards for reducing tailpipe emissions because ... the entire nation suffers from global warming, not just California. In other words, because California is not alone in its suffering, the federal government will not allow the state, or any other state, to deviate from the Clean Air Act and take action that might begin to alleviate the problem.

EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson, in effect, wrote that California was no worse off than anyone else, so it would be improper to let the state take the lead in beginning to show how the impacts of global warming might begin to be reduced.

"In my judgment, the impacts of global climate change in California, compared to the rest of the nation as a whole, are not sufficiently different to be considered `compelling and extraordinary conditions' that merit separate state greenhouse gas standards for new motor vehicles," wrote Johnson.

Here's more biting irony: Johnson added that the waiver sought by California was denied in part because a "nationwide approach" would be better. Because it's a national problem, only the nation as a whole can deal with it -- not the individual states. Yet as long as President George W. Bush is in charge, efforts to tackle global warming will continue to be blocked -- so there can be no national approach!

So here we are. Like so much else -- from our shattered economy to the loss of American jobs; to the war in Iraq and the forthcoming war with Iran; to the trashing of our national image to the assault on our sacred Constitution -- global climate change is just one more dire problem that will simply be left to whoever it is that next inherits the White House.

There are just over 300 days until Bush leaves office, but, as damaging decisions such as this remind us, that day simply cannot come soon enough.



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