Hearings - Statement
 
Statement of Frank R. Lautenberg
Hearing: Full Committee hearing entitled, “Oversight of EPA’s Decision to Deny the California Waiver."
Thursday, January 24, 2008

(Remarks as prepared for delivery)

We are here—once again—to discuss the EPA’s failure to act to protect the environment.

For the first time in its history, the EPA has denied California, New Jersey and several other states a waiver to set emissions reductions on cars that are stronger than the federal law.

This standard would require new cars to emit 30 percent less greenhouse gases by 2016.

The governors here today—Governors Rendell, O’Malley and Douglas, as well as Governor Corzine from my home state of New Jersey—deserve credit for showing leadership when it comes to the environment by adopting the California standard.

Madam Chairman, it is bad enough when the federal government fails to lead.

But it is even worse when the federal government gets in the way of states that are trying to act in the absence of that leadership.

Last year, EPA Administrator Johnson sat in that seat and told this committee, ‘the Administration has been taking steps to tackle climate change.’

The denial of this waiver is taking a step – in the wrong direction.

As we all know, greenhouse gas emissions are causing global warming, which is the most serious environmental threat we face.

Temperatures and sea levels are already rising.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recent report showed that the earth is warming at an alarming rate.

In 2006, the temperature in the U.S. was 0.2 degrees warmer than the average temperature throughout the 20th century.

Faced with this compelling science, Administrator Johnson still denied this waiver.

He argued that our cars do not need strong emissions standards at the state level because of a recent increase in federal fuel economy standards.

And to reach that decision, he overruled the advice of his own legal and scientific experts.

They said the decision to deny the waiver was incorrect and would be overturned in court.

The Administrator should have listened to his experts—because his decision is wrong.

The California law—which 16 states are trying to adopt—goes further than the federal law.

If this waiver was granted, it would be the equivalent of taking 6.5 million cars off the road, according to one estimate.

It is an injustice to our environment and to future generations of Americans for the EPA to stand in the way.

California, New Jersey and other states are taking the EPA to court to overturn this irresponsible decision, and I support that action.

And today, Chairman Boxer, myself, and many of our colleagues are introducing legislation to do the same thing.

But while he is here, I hope the Administrator can explain to us why he chose to protect industry over protecting the environment for our children and grandchildren.”

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