EPA blow to California’s green dreaming

Californian plans to put tough legal limits on the level of greenhouse gases produced by vehicles used in the state have been turned down by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

The state had planned to introduce regulations which would set limits on the carbon emissions of all new vehicles produced from the beginning of 2009.

In order to get such regulations on the books, however, the State of California needed permission from the federal EPA, under the Clean Air Act.

The required waiver would have allowed the state to effectively over-write federal standards with its own, tougher, set of limits but could not be granted unless the state could demonstrate exceptional circumstances that set it apart from other US states and that the proposed measures would help address them.

In turning the application for a waiver down, EPA administrator Stephen Johnson said there were no ‘compelling and extraordinary conditions’ which would allow California to take this exceptional departure from national policy, and that as greenhouse gases posed a problem wherever in the world they were emitted, localised action would not lead to localised results.

Environmentalists have railed against the setback, claiming the current administration rather than scientific opinion has forced the EPA’s decision.

“The Bush administration has chosen to stand with polluters instead of the planet in rejecting California’s waiver request to limit greenhouse gas pollution from vehicles,” said a statement issued by Friends of the Earth USA.

“Nothing in the document released today justifies EPA’s decision – in fact, it confirms recent reports that the denial was a political decision which contradicts the professional advice of EPA scientists and staff.

“The document highlights the threat caused by global warming and underscores the need for states to act on their own to cut greenhouse gas emissions.”

Sam Bond

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