Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

December 21, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

EXPERTS IGNORED....FILM AT 11....I know this will come as a shock to you all, but it turns out that the Bush administration's decision to turn down California's application to regulate greenhouse gases was a purely political judgment that completely ignored the technical merits of the case:

"California met every criteria . . . on the merits. The same criteria we have used for the last 40 years on all the other waivers," said an EPA staffer. "We told him that. All the briefings we have given him laid out the facts."

....Technical and legal staff also concluded that if the waiver were denied, EPA would very likely lose in court to the state, the sources said....They advised him to either grant the waiver outright or give California a temporary one for three years.

Instead, three sources said, Johnson cut off any consultation with his technical staff for the last month and made his decision before having them write the formal, legal justification for it.

The good news, at least according to LA Times legal writer David Savage in a separate piece, is that California is likely to win its court challenge.

Kevin Drum 12:02 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (29)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

I did not know they could challenge this in court. Thank God someone fore-saw this.

Posted by: MNPundit on December 21, 2007 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

What a shock. I am amazed.

Posted by: POed Lib on December 21, 2007 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

I heard those California bureaucrats say they were going to sue the EPA. Why would not they just enforce their laws and ignore the EPA the way W. Bush would? Maybe they think the rule of law is important.

Posted by: Brojo on December 21, 2007 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

Jesus Christ, Kevin! They don't need "experts" or "science!" They have Jesus Christ!

And we all know, Jesus hates polar bears and coastal cities!

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on December 21, 2007 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

Didn't the EPA head also ignore go against all advice from the career civil service types in the Department? It was unanimous for California.

Posted by: Joe Klein's conscience on December 21, 2007 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

California met every criteria . . . on the merits. The same criteria we have used for the last 40 years on all the other waivers,"

CLICK THE LINK. ALWAYS CLICK THE LINK. As EPA administrator Stephen L. Johnson explained, the energy bill recently passed by the Democratic controlled Congress overrules the authority of the EPA to grant the waiver. So liberals and Democrats have no one to blame but themselves for the EPA's refusal to grant the waiver.

"EPA administrator Stephen L. Johnson announced Wednesday that because President Bush had signed an energy bill raising average fuel economy that there was no need or justification for separate state regulation. He also said that California's request did not meet the legal standard set out in the Clean Air Act."

Posted by: Al on December 21, 2007 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

That picture of Johnson reminds me of Peter Griffin

Posted by: bill on December 21, 2007 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

[IP reveals a banned troll. Content deleted.]

Posted by: Keith on December 21, 2007 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't there any way to prosecute bureaucrats for gross malfeasance in cases like these? When they simply ignore every mandate of their own agency?

Posted by: brooksfoe on December 21, 2007 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, who knew that all those waivers granted in previous years (when, as now, there was federal legislation mandating corporate average fuel economy numbers) were unlawful. Quick, stop the presses. Oh, wait...

Of course the crucial thing this does is to cost California and the federal government millions of dollars that could have been spent protecting the environment.

Posted by: paul on December 21, 2007 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

Typical Bush tactics. First you refuse to negotiate in good faith and force your decision on the enemy. (enemy = anyone not a total Bush loyalist)

Then, when that gets overturned in the courts, they have still kicked the can a year or two further down the line and prevented anyone from getting a damned thing done.

Obstruction lives, and its avatar is the Republican Party. They won't let anyone else do anything without paying them off, and they call that free enterprise.

Posted by: Rick B on December 21, 2007 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

This is what happens when the Federal government is a wholly-owned subsidiary of America's Ultra-Rich Ruling Class, Inc.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on December 21, 2007 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Wait a minute. Aren't these the folks that were trumpeting "states rights" just a little while ago?

Posted by: CN on December 21, 2007 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Al - read the bill. It explicitly said that nothing in the Bill would prevent California - mentioned by name - or any other state from seeking wavers.

Typical Bushism - tell the plausible lie to keep the base in line knowing that 99% of the people and 70% of the press would never double check.

And it gets worse - this ruling was published without the usual documentation and so it is not really official yet. California cannot sue until the final, documented ruling is issued. What are the odds that it's going to take the EPA more than a few days to issue the official ruling?

Posted by: Bob R on December 21, 2007 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

That picture of Johnson reminds me of Peter Griffin

Yep. And under the pic where it says "click to enlarge" I first read the tiny font as "dick to enlarge".

Once again I promise to vote in the primary for the Dem who first promises to choke the life out of GWB and Cheney with his/her bare hands.

Posted by: Disputo on December 21, 2007 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

For the purposes of the EPA, greenhouse gases are just not like 'traditional' air pollution. Because of local conditions, Southern California has a special regional smog problem and reasonably needs the ability to impose tougher pollution standards. Fine. But global warming is a global phenomenon (hence the name), and California doesn't have a unique, local climate change problem that can be ameliorated by local limits on greenhouse gases. Waivers were intended to give states the flexibility to address local pollution problems, not the flexibility to implement their own foreign policy when they didn't like the one coming from Washington. Why doesn't California just do it up right and sue for the ability to sign the Kyoto treaty independently of the U.S. as a whole?

But on the other hand ... go ahead, California, knock yourself out. If Californians want to force each other to drive Priuses, I don't care. And if California wants to impose CO2 emissions limits that raise the cost of energy and drive energy intensive businesses out of state, again that's really OK by me.

Posted by: Slocum on December 21, 2007 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder how morale with the EPA is. Knowing their expertise is only wanted/solicited when it supports predetermined conclusions. I suppose any of these guys who would quit because of this sort of situation are already longgone. The rest just need to hold on for another 13months.

Posted by: bigTom on December 21, 2007 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder how morale with the EPA is.

It's extremely poor and has been for years, but people are hopeful that things will improve with an administration change.

Posted by: shortstop on December 21, 2007 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Slocum: "...and California doesn't have a unique, local climate change problem that can be ameliorated by local limits on greenhouse gases."

Ah, but it is not just CA that is looking to do this; there are a sizable number of other states that are waiting on CA to succeed. And even if CA was completely on its own, the state wields quite a bit of influence. So auto manufacturers would likely have to fall in line eventually and, in this case, they aren't going to easily be able to do it by selling a CA and 49-state version of their cars as they did previously with exhaust systems.

And I think even Schwarzenegger understands that CA's move despite having little direct impact on global warming will likely generate an eco-tech boom in the state that will pay tremendous economic dividends in the long run.

Posted by: cthulhu on December 21, 2007 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

Follow the Cheney

...Before EPA administrator Stephen L. Johnson “answered the pleas of industry executives” by announcing his “decision to deny California the right to regulate greenhouse gases from vehicles,” auto executives directly appealed to Vice President Cheney. EPA staffers told the LA Times that Johnson “made his decision” only after Cheney met with the executives.
On multiple occasions in October and November, Cheney and White House staff members met with industry executives, including the CEOs of Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler. At the meetings, the executives objected to California’s proposed fuel economy standards...

Posted by: Mike on December 21, 2007 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, but it is not just CA that is looking to do this; there are a sizable number of other states that are waiting on CA to succeed.

But none of them have special local global warming problems that require special local rules either. And though I'm not a constitutional scholar, as I understand it, the constitution isn't really cool with groups of states joining forces to make independent foreign policy either.

And even if CA was completely on its own, the state wields quite a bit of influence. So auto manufacturers would likely have to fall in line eventually and, in this case, they aren't going to easily be able to do it by selling a CA and 49-state version of their cars as they did previously with exhaust systems.

But they wouldn't need to sell special CA versions -- they can just not sell their lower MPG vehicles in CA at all. Or, alternately, sell them at a high enough price to pay the CO2 tax. Which, of course, will be the case for Hollywood types like Arnold and their huge SUVs, exotic sports cars, and powerful BMWs. Or do think Ferrari, Jaguar, and Porsche are going to meet the new standards (or be booted out of California)? Which reminds me, did you catch this:

http://www.businessgreen.com/business-green/news/2205913/row-threatens-eu-car-emissions

And I think even Schwarzenegger understands that CA's move despite having little direct impact on global warming will likely generate an eco-tech boom in the state that will pay tremendous economic dividends in the long run.

I never really understand this logic. As a result of such rules, yes, Californians may have to buy more eco-tech products--but who's to say they will be produced in CA? After all, the Prius factory isn't in California.

Posted by: Slocum on December 21, 2007 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

Slocum, California is not alone in this, there are 12-14 additional states (Illinois, Iowa and New Jersey are the only ones I can recall at the moment) that also want to implement higher standards. That is a big chunk of the automakers' potential buyers.
Using your illogic then, unless California can show that any higher standards it wants to impose would only affect California and only California, then that state shouldn't be allowed to impose any standards.
Do you rely on the check from Detroit (and/or the RNC) that much?

Posted by: Doug on December 21, 2007 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

But they wouldn't need to sell special CA versions -- they can just not sell their lower MPG vehicles in CA at all. - Slocum

Thanks for bringing that up, because I was sympathetic to some degree to the former GM exec. that wrote to the Washington Post today about needing a single national standard so that GM and others wouldn't have to multiple-configure their fleets by state. All they would have to do is exclude the heaviest vehicles from being sold in those states. Problem solved! I'm sure people in those states wouldn't mind that much, would they?

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on December 21, 2007 at 10:07 PM | PERMALINK

Using your illogic then, unless California can show that any higher standards it wants to impose would only affect California and only California, then that state shouldn't be allowed to impose any standards.

Huh? No -- the point is that the EPA waivers were intended to allow states flexibility to address *local* pollution problems. Global warming just ain't a local pollution problem.

Do you rely on the check from Detroit (and/or the RNC) that much?

As I said, personally I really don't give a damn whether California imposes stricter standards or not. If they do, I think it'll either backfire or end up being watered down to the point where it has no effect (or maybe the first followed by the second), but as far as I'm concerned, they're welcome to try.

But the legal reasoning is bogus, and you know it (or would know it if you didn't find it inconvenient).

Posted by: Slocum on December 21, 2007 at 11:17 PM | PERMALINK

Would the country be better off if the Detroit auto companies simply went out of business or were acquired by the likes of Toyota or Honda?

Posted by: bob h on December 22, 2007 at 6:33 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, Slocum, we dumb Californians don't know anything about running an economy. After all, we have one of the smallest per-capita GDP's in the country.

When the last trees are cut down, the last oil is pumped out of the ground, your home is flooded, and your farmland has become a desert, then we can talk about what makes a good economy.

Posted by: Doctor Jay on December 22, 2007 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

Slocum, the staff and legal counsel of the EPA disagree with you, as do other experts and the federal courts. Your main point has been expressly addressed by the Supreme Court. In short, you're talking out your ass.

California met every criteria . . . on the merits
Nichols, who served as assistant EPA administrator overseeing air regulations under President Clinton, said she had helped write waiver decisions there, and "I know California met all the criteria on this one."
Technical and legal staff also concluded that if the waiver were denied, EPA would very likely lose in court to the state, the sources said.
The Supreme Court this spring ruled that carbon dioxide is a pollutant as defined by the Clean Air Act, and therefore subject to regulation by the EPA.
In April the Supreme Court rebuked the Bush administration, saying that the Clean Air Act does give the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to regulate the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from cars.
In September, a federal district court judge rejected the automakers suit brought before a Vermont court. And earlier this month, another federal judge tossed the automakers' suit in California. "Given the level of impairment of human health and welfare that current climate science indicates may occur if human-generated greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated, it would be the very definition of folly if EPA were precluded" from regulating greenhouse gases, Judge Anthony Ishii wrote.

Moreover, Johnson's reason for rejecting the claim was complete bullshit:

EPA administrator Stephen L. Johnson announced Wednesday that because President Bush had signed an energy bill raising average fuel economy that there was no need or justification for separate state regulation.

Now what was that you were saying about "bogus legal reasoning?"

Posted by: PaulB on December 22, 2007 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

Your main point has been expressly addressed by the Supreme Court.

Yes, I know what the Supreme Court ruled. It's hardly the only lousy, politically motivated ruling it has made recently -- see Kelo v New London. Or consider Raich, where the court ruled that medical marijuana grown for personal use was a form of 'interstate commerce'. Why such an absurd ruling? Because if it had ruled otherwise, then the Endangered Species Act (which is also justified on Commerce Clause grounds) might have been vulnerable. So the "liberal" judges sold out medical marijuana growers to protect the endangered species act. Now you might think that was a shrewd political trade off. But the Supreme Court isn't supposed to be making political judgments and then reasoning back from results to principles -- that just ain't the way it's supposed to work.

Yeah, Slocum, we dumb Californians don't know anything about running an economy. After all, we have one of the smallest per-capita GDP's in the country.

Right -- I wouldn't worry. If California is wealthy, it will always be thus. No rich state has ever gone into decline.

Posted by: Slocum on December 22, 2007 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

"Yes, I know what the Supreme Court ruled."

Then why did you pretend that people decrying the EPA's actions were guilty of "bogus legal reasoning?"

"It's hardly the only lousy, politically motivated ruling it has made recently -- see Kelo v New London."

ROFL.... Dear heart, you have yet to establish that there is anything wrong with the Supreme Court's reasoning in the case, much less that California would be destined to lose if it sued the EPA.

In short, you got caught writing a really stupid post, contrary to all of the known facts in the case. When called on it, instead of admitting that you wrote a really stupid post, you basically went on the attack, digging that hole deeper and deeper.

Thanks for confirming that you're an idiot who doesn't deserve to be taken seriously.

Posted by: PaulB on December 23, 2007 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly