SENATOR BENJAMIN L. CARDIN (D-MD)
ENVIRONMENT & PUBLIC WORKS COMMITTEE
HEARING ON “The Implications of the Supreme Court’s Decision Regarding EPA’s Authorities with Respect to Greenhouse Gases under the Clean Air Act.”
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Thank you for holding this hearing today.
We have a number of important witnesses to hear from, so I will keep my opening statement brief.
We will hear extensive testimony today about the complexities of climate science, the intricacies of the Clean Air Act, and the particular problems associated with setting standards and issuing regulations. But as I see it, there are really just three basic questions before EPA today.
Number 1: Can the Agency reasonably anticipate that greenhouse gases endanger public health or welfare? This “endangerment” determination is the first step, and it is a remarkably easy hurdle to get over. The Agency determined back in 1998 that greenhouse gases posed such a threat, and the scientific basis for that decision has grown exponentially over the last decade. The answer is an unambiguous ‘yes’.
Number 2: Should the Agency regulate greenhouse gases from motor vehicles? Transportation accounts for 26% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. It is the second largest source sector of greenhouse gases in the nation. So this question, too, is easily answered. Of course the Agency must regulate these mobile source pollutants.
And Number 3: Should EPA consider regulating other air pollution sources of greenhouse gas emissions? Again, the answer is an unambiguous ‘Yes.’ Failure to do so would be both unfair and irresponsible.
I firmly believe that the Congress must act to provide a clear, comprehensive legislative framework with mandatory caps to address global warming. But until we do so, the EPA is not without an extensive array of legal and regulatory tools to begin addressing this compelling problem.
One of my staff members is expecting a baby this August. Emily does not need to know the full cost of a college education 18 years from now to make the prudent decision to start saving today for her baby’s higher education. Similarly, the EPA does not need to decide immediately on the nature and extent of every action it can and should take to tackle greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, our children and grandchildren are precisely the ones that will benefit if EPA gets started on controlling greenhouse emissions right away.
1. EPA should immediately make an ‘endangerment’ determination. The record is already sufficient. I call on the Administrator to do so by the end of the month.
2. Sixteen months ago, California requested a routine Clean Air Act waiver for its new clean car rule. My state of Maryland has just adopted legislation that will put those same standards into effect here as soon as the California waiver is granted. The EPA Administrator should schedule the mandatory waiver hearing as soon as possible and commit to a waiver ruling 30 days thereafter.
3. The Agency should begin the regulatory process for controlling greenhouse gas emissions from mobile sources. EPA should publish a notice of intended rulemaking this summer and have an accelerated schedule for issuing draft regulations, accepting public comment, responding to concerns, and issuing final regulations in the transportation sector. Administrator Johnson should challenge his staff to complete that process this calendar year.
4. The Agency should start down the same path with the electrical generating sector.
We have lost precious time while the Bush Administration tried to evade its responsibility to the American people to regulate greenhouse gases. The various voluntary initiatives that the Administration has pursued are no substitute for the full rigor of the Clean Air Act and its mandatory provisions. I urge the EPA and the Bush Administration to move with all deliberate speed to use the existing, broad authorities of the Clean Air Act to begin regulating greenhouse gases.
We can’t afford to wait any longer.