Environmentalists harbor no illusions about the Bush Administration; from a 2001 decision to weaken regulations on arsenic in drinking water to its antagonistic performance at last week’s U.N. climate change talks in Bali, the White House has consistently opposed green goals.
But Wednesday’s move by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) denying California and 16 other states the right to set their own standards for carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles was an unpleasant surprise; even by Bush standards.
The announcement, made by EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, temporarily torpedoes state efforts led by California to drastically reduce CO2 emissions from cars by treating the greenhouse gas as a pollutant that could be regulated like any other.
The California initiative, part of the state’s landmark climate change plan, could have provided a nationwide model for cutting automobile emissions, one of the single biggest sources of greenhouse gas in the U.S.
‘The Administration has done a number of indefensible things on the environment and global warming,’ says Jim Marston, director of the state climate initiative for Environmental Defense. ‘But this is the worst in terms of process, and the one that will be most harmful to the health and safety of the American people.’