State fights to regulate auto emissions

December 22, 2008 2:02:47 PM PST
A panel of outraged environmental leaders met today in Southern California to figure out how to fight the federal government over tail-pipe emissions.

It's a frustrated response to the EPA's refusal to allow California and 16 other states to regulate emissions from cars, trucks and SUV'S.

In the automotive vernacular, this is a smoke bomb: a poster vehicle for offensive carbon dioxide emissions.

Bob Stauder sees plenty of heaps like these.

"This is the kind of car the state, you know, wants to get off the road," said Stauder.

Or any state -- but California especially, which helps explain State Attorney General Jerry Brown's appearance before a senate environmental committee on Thursday.

There's more pressure against the federal EPA after it turned down California's request for tougher auto emissions than the federal standard.

"The environmental protection agency has betrayed its sacred trust," said California attorney general Jerry Brown.

"Once again we are seeing that science doesn't have any sway at the federal level. Once again politics trumps science," said Ann Notthoff from the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Ann Notthoff helped draft California's law. It would reduce emissions and increase fuel economy beginning in 2011. She and others are flummoxed at an EPA claim of more aggressive, tougher standards.

How can that be? They ask -- when California would require cars to get 44 miles per gallon by the year 2o2o, and the federal government, 35.

"U.S. EPA can count as well as California can," said Notthoff.

The villain, as California sees it, is EPA administrator Stephen Johnson, who says climate change is a national and global issue, not a state one.

As for the math, EPA spokesman Jonathan Shrader said on Thursday: "We didn't look at California's 2020 goal. Only what they requested, which was 2016. The administrator did not look at scale. The numbers did not play into his decision."

"Well they should have made a comparison because if you look at the California rules, they are going to get pollution out of the air quicker than the federal rules," said Notthoff.

It's a debate that California is taking to federal court. It's a decision that will take longer than the one Bob Stauder made about failing this smoke bomb.

"This thing is a waste of money. It needs to be put to rest," said Stauder.


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