Saturday, January 12, 2008

Free California

EPA Administrator Refuses Global Greenhouse Gas Waiver

The State of California took the leadership in the 1970's to reduce air pollutants and emissions from automobiles because the population was highly concentrated in urban areas. These areas, including San Diego, the Bay Area and Los Angeles were trapping smog. People couldn't breathe, or needed to wear aspirators and masks. These centers have geographic features which contribute to the problem and cause difficulties for smog because they are either built in basins and surrounded by mountains or they are trapped between the westerly winds of the ocean and mountains to the east. They couldn't wait for the federal government to take action.

Cars built for other states needed special emissions reducing equipment in order to pass the strict guidelines. The truck that I moved to California was exempted because of a grandfather clause. It was built before the guidelines were passed. By the time I moved to San Francisco in the 1980's I could see the difference in air quality in the Bay Area. They have taken other measures to continue to fight for clean air.

The fight for clean air overlaps the fight against global warming, and so I have a hard time understanding the rationale behind the Director of the Federal Environmental Protection Agency's decision to deny a waiver to the State of California. The legislature passed and the governor signed new regulations restricting greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles, and because they are more stringent than those recently enacted by Congress they needed a waiver in order to enforce them. Stephen Johnson wrote a letter to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger explaining his objection. Greenhouse gases are a global problem, not a state problem, and so the states must wait for the world governments to take action.

Dan Stafford at Environmental Action is taking action. He is calling for Johnson's resignation as director of the EPA. You can send an e-mail to him requesting that he do sane thing. If he is acting against his personal stance on global warming at the behest of the puppet-string puller from Wyoming, he will welcome the chance to get the hell out of Washington. If he has made the decision on his own, well we need to tell him he is no longer considered our environmental protector. Send an e-mail and do him a favor. Here is what I sent:
Administrator Johnson:

I am appalled at your recent denial of California's clean air permit request. As the head of the EPA, you have a responsibility to support protection of the environment.

I fail to understand the denial of a waiver based on the frequent conservative political posture that the states should be free to govern themselves. Ironically, the president who made this a popular refrain, Ronald Reagan, had been governor of California at the time.

States cannot wait for the federal government to fight global warming as strictly as their residents have expressed their wishes to do. I am not currently a Californian, but I was a resident for several years before moving to Minnesota. As a Californian, I was proud of the leadership role that California has historically taken in protecting the environment. It baffles me that you would restrain their leadership.

Since you have failed in your duty, I request you resign your post as EPA Administrator.


Michael Haubrich