California v. EPA: round two

Battle over carbon-dioxide regulation continues in a new lawsuit with the EPA.

There is no love lost between the Environmental Protection Agency and California, and over the past two years they have fought bitterly over global warming and air quality regulations. California, a state plagued by poor air quality, is pursuing an ambitious law that would require cars to reduce their emissions 30 percent by 2016. Under the Clean Air Act, California needs to be granted a waiver from the EPA in order to enact stricter policies related to air quality. Standing in opposition of California is the EPA, a slow-moving federal bureaucracy that is seemingly doing whatever it can to stall and avoid a decision. California is now suing the EPA over its protracted deliberations of the waiver request.

California is justifiably incensed at the lack of action by the EPA. It has been nearly two years since the state passed its controversial emission-reduction law, and the EPA has continually stalled despite a Supreme Court ruling declaring that the EPA could and probably should regulate carbon emissions. The EPA has denied its authority to regulate carbon dioxide, has refused to offer any kind of timetable and has generally offered few answers despite numerous Congressional hearings.

The EPA’s despicable handling of this situation has again shown this agency’s failure to fulfill its duties. Certainly the current administration is not pleased about the impact this law would have on automakers, and there is some concern that this could result in a collection of vastly different state policies, but the EPA needs to act for the benefit of environmental and human health. If the EPA has reason to deny the waiver, it should be done immediately, and the games should end. Too much time and money has been wasted fighting about this policy, and knowing that it has no basis for rejecting the waiver, the EPA has simply sought to obfuscate the process. Now with 14 other states adopting California’s policy, the tables continue to turn against the EPA, and it is becoming more apparent that, at the very least, “Environmental Protection Agency” is a misnomer.