California vs. Bush

As everybody knows, the Bush administration has done everything in its power these past years to block California’s ability to fight global warming by implementing tailpipe emission standards. (These people actually had the temerity to try selling the U.S. Supreme Court on the idea that carbon dioxide isn’t a pollutant covered by the Clean Air Act!)

Last week, under the leadership of Bush appointee Stephen Johnson, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency continued this campaign of delay and obfuscation by announcing it would stall a decision to act on California’s request for a “waiver” that would allow the state to enact its law requiring automakers to reduce emissions by 25 percent for cars and 18 percent for SUVs starting in 2009. In fact, Johnson told California not to expect an answer on the waiver until 2008.


Why has Bush, his appointees and supporters of his energy policies in Congress taken out all the stops to halt our efforts to require automakers to limit greenhouse-gas emissions? Because they recognize a simple truth: As California goes, so goes the country. Already, 11 other states have signed on to follow California’s lead on emissions once we are granted the federal waiver.

Despite the stall and stutter, we’re encouraged to see California fighting back with ferocity—this time with Attorney General Jerry Brown and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger playing tag team to raise awareness about the “waiver.” Their determination to sue the U.S. EPA for refusing to act on the state’s request is genius and ensures ongoing pressure and headlines.

Sue away! It doesn’t take Al Gore to remind that passenger vehicles are the second-largest source of global-warming emissions in the country. If Bush and the U.S. EPA refuse to lead the charge on climate change, they damn well better get out of the way so others can.