California’s EPA Waiver: Substantive Critique

By January 10, 2008Global Warming

Leaving the political sphere below, we suspect today’s field briefing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in Los Angeles will also give short shrift to the serious policy arguments against granting California a waiver to allow it to regulate carbon dioxide.

So two items, the first from the EPA’s news release, pointing out how extraordinary California’s request is.

California’s current waiver request is distinct from all prior requests. Previous waiver petitions covered pollutants that predominantly impacted local and regional air quality. Greenhouse gases are fundamentally global in nature, which is unlike the other air pollutants covered by prior California waiver requests. These gases contribute to the challenge of global climate change affecting every state in the union. Therefore, according to the criteria in section 209 of the Clean Air Act, EPA did not find that separate California standards are needed to “meet compelling and extraordinary conditions.”

And an excellent column by Thomas Tanton, an environmental expert at the Pacific Research Institute, “Waiver Denial: All Pain or All Gain?” The California regulations would impose huge costs on the state’s citizens, burdening employers and dragging down the economy. Tanton reports that cumulative economic costs could reach as much as $511 billion through 2050. And for what? One official, California Air Resource Board Deputy Executive Officer Tom Cackette, testified at a Vermont trial about the regulations’ impact on the environment:

Q. “You’re not aware, as you sit here today, of any calculation that would suggest that it would be large enough to measure even if the entire country adopted AB 1493, correct?”

A: “I’m not aware of any studies.”

Q: “And you’re not aware of any studies that suggest that even if the entire world adopted AB 1493 [the California law] that you’d achieve a reduction in ambient temperature that would be large enough to measure, correct?”

A “I’m not aware of any studies, yes.”

So California wants to set national environmental policy, force a massive retooling of the domestic automotive industry, impose huge costs on consumers and business, because ….it seems like a good idea? Maybe?

Leave a Reply