Remarks as prepared for delivery
Today, we will hear about the EPA=s crucial upcoming decision regarding whether to grant California a Awaiver@ that will free California and 12 other states to take important steps to reduce global warming pollution from vehicles.
California submitted its waiver request over 20 months ago, but EPA dragged its feet and refused to act on it until the Supreme Court of the United States decided whether the Clean Air Act authorizes greenhouse gas regulation.
On April 2nd of this year, the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Massachusetts v. EPA. The Court ruled that greenhouse gases are clearly Aair pollutants@ under the Clean Air Act, and it rejected EPA=s excuses for not regulating vehicle greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act.
Later in April, I called upon Mr. Johnson to testify about how he would respond to the Supreme Court=s decision. I urged him to move quickly on California=s waiver request for its greenhouse gas standards so that California could begin to reduce global warming pollution from passenger vehicles.
I also encouraged Mr. Johnson to take other actions under the Clean Air Act to help make up for precious lost time in responding to the challenge of global warming.
Unfortunately, Mr. Johnson repeatedly said that these issues are Acomplex@ and need much further study. So I invited him back for a progress report, so we can be assured that he is moving Aexpeditiously@ as he promised us he would in April.
But in the meantime, there have been several developments that cast doubt on this Administration=s seriousness about getting on with the crucial business of combating global warming.
First, Administrator Johnson has announced that he will not make a decision on California =s request until December of this year.
I fail to understand why it should take the agency until December—a total of two years—to decide this waiver request. In 30 years, EPA has granted over 50 waiver requests and has never denied one, according to the Congressional Research Service. Deciding this issue should not take so long.
That is why I have joined with Senator Nelson and several of our colleagues, including on this Committee Senators Lautenberg, Cardin, Sanders, and Whitehouse, to introduce legislation to require EPA to make its decision by September 30th.
I plan on marking up that legislation shortly.
I am also very troubled that top officials at the Department of Transportation, with the help of the auto industry, lobbied members of Congress and governors to oppose California =s waiver request.
DOT Secretary Peters herself was part of this unprecedented, unprincipled use of taxpayer dollars to tilt the scales of another agency=s decision-making process, even before public comments were considered.
It appears that at least some parts of the Administration have already decided against granting the waiver, raising the question of whether California =s request will get a fair and objective hearing on its merits.
The President has also directed EPA and other federal agencies to implement through regulation his A20-in-10" plan to reduce projected gasoline. While it may sound good in theory, his plan could actually allow heavy use of greenhouse gas-spewing fuels to substitute for gasoline, undermining efforts to reduce our global warming pollution.
I am concerned that this problematic Presidential directive may be draining resources needed to make a decision on the California request, and could become an excuse for further delay or even a denial of the request.
I am proud of my state for the leadership it has shown in addressing the pressing problem of global warming. As a result of that leadership, 13 states stand poised to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from over 30% of the vehicles sold in this country.
This Administration=s longstanding policy against taking regulatory action to reduce global warming pollution should not be allowed to stand in the way of California =s leadership.
Because of California=s tradition of leadership in controlling vehicle emissions, the Clean Air Act reserves a special role for California in setting vehicle emission standards.
EPA and this Administration should respect that role, and allow California to once again lead the country in reducing vehicle pollution B in this case, pollution that threatens the planet itself. That way, we can take important steps towards protecting the future of our children and our grandchildren from the pervasive threats posed by global warming.
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