Washington, D.C., December 20, 2007—The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Wednesday blocked a California law curtailing carbon dioxide emissions from motor vehicles, a decision drawing praise from the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
"By refusing to grant the waiver, EPA averted an economically devastating regulatory morass," said CEI Senior Fellow Marlo Lewis.
The California law would have required 30 percent reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2016. Consumers would have been socked with higher prices for automobiles as manufacturers scrambled to redesign their fleets. The state had sought a waiver from the EPA on setting its own air emissions standards. If the waiver were granted, other states could have adopted the California standards.
If EPA had granted the waiver, environmental pressure groups would have construed this as CO2 regulation authorized by the Clean Air Act and launched lawsuits to compel EPA to regulate hundreds of thousands of farms, factories, and buildings under the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) program.See letter to the President.)
"California claimed that ‘compelling and extraordinary’ circumstances entitled it to a waiver, but global warming is hardly ‘extraordinary’ in California," said CEI General Counsel Sam Kazman. "It’s called global warming, not California warming. Anyone who thinks otherwise is California Dreaming."
In fact, significant problems associated with a warming climate are not to be found in California: the state's water supply is not shrinking, and sea level rise in San Francisco has slowed or even stopped since the mid-1980s.(See study.) Moreover, most of the warming in the state's central valley is attributable to agriculture and irrigation rather than to any global atmospheric phenomenon. (See study.)
"This is one of the rare instances where the Competitive Enterprise Institute supports an EPA decision," Kazman noted.