About Air and Water

Friday, December 21, 2007

EPA Waives Clean Cars Goodbye

By Josh Dorner - Sierra Club - Issue #238 - December 21, 2007
EPA Waives Clean Cars Goodbye

The Bush Administration sure knows how to ruin a good party. On Wednesday morning, President Bush, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and a whole pack of Congressmen gathered at the Energy Department to enjoy a brief moment of peace between the two ends of Pennsylvania Avenue and sing Kumbaya over the energy bill. Then, in a classic bit of Washington high theatre, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson swooped in like the Grinch and stole our Green Christmas by denying California the waiver it (along with at least 16 other states) needs to move forward with its landmark global warming emissions standards for cars.

In an evening press conference called with little more than half an hour's notice, Johnson explained that California's need to deal with global warming did not meet the "extraordinary and compelling" circumstances spelled out in the Clean Air Act and that the energy bill's compromise CAFE provision was the administration's "comprehensive" response to global warming emissions from vehicles, thank you very much. While this decision has long been expected, it was particularly galling that the energy bill, with its ink barely dry, was used as the pretext for denying the waiver.

The reaction of state officials and politicians ranged from "disappointing," "absurd," "indefensible," "a mockery of the law," to "disgraceful." But at least someone was happy. The auto industry -- fresh off yet another stinging loss in the courts just last week -- issued a glowing press statement commending EPA. California, the Sierra Club, and others of course immediately pledged to take EPA to court over the decision.

While EPA may have thought that its hastily-called, Wednesday-evening-before-Christmas presser would be enough to bury the news, they were badly mistaken. For one, the Washington Post obtained internal EPA documents that demonstrate that Johnson denied the waiver over the "unanimous recommendation of the agency's legal and technical staffs." Indeed, the EPA's own lawyers predicted they would lose in court if it denied the waiver and would almost certainly beat back an auto industry lawsuit if it approved it.

Looks like Johnson's got some 'splainin' to do. Luckily, it appears he will have no shortage of venues in which to explain exactly why he overruled his staff and participated in a possibly illegal lobbying campaign against the waiver orchestrated by the White House and the Department of Transportation. Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, whose requests for meetings with Johnson over the past two weeks went unanswered, has pledged to bring him before the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee. Similarly, Congress' Maestro of Oversight, Rep. Henry Waxman -- also of California -- expressed his outrage in a statement and indicated his own Oversight and Government Reform Committee will be delving into the process behind the denial.

As our lawyer who's been fighting this in the courts all year said, these guys are 0-4 and they are about to go 0-5.

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Travel to other worlds ... UTA Planetarium

Immersive full-dome 3-D Digital planetarium show narrated by Ewan McGregor (Obi wan Kepobi from Star Wars) - Astronaut takes you exporing the worlds of inner and outer space. The movie is projected all around you. You recline in specially constructed chairs which enables you to comfortably view the immersive full-dome planetarium show. Astronaut! (produced from the National Space Centre in England) goes beyond the stereotypical space movie. Experience a rocket launch from inside the body of the astronaut. Float around the international Space Station moving thorugh the microscopic regions of the human body! Discover the beauty and perils as "Chad", the test astronaut experiences everything thrown at him.

Summer Schedule (June 2-August 26):


shows at the UTA Planetarium.

Wed. through Saturdays at 11 a.m.
and Thursday at 7:00 p.m.

Cosmic CSI

shows at the UTA Planetarium 3-D Digital Dome.

Wed. through Saturdays at 2 p.m.

Rock Hall of Fame 1 (The Original)

shows at the UTA Planetarium.

Thursday at 8:00 p.m.

Read more (Warning their flat dull website doesn't give much of a glimmer of the multi-dimensional experience you'll have once you enter the dome of the UTA Planetarium!)

Admission: Adults: $5.00

Seniors, Students, Children: $4.00

UTA Faculty, Staff & Alumni (with ID): $3.00

UTA Studens (with ID): $2.00

Groups of 10 or more with reservation: $3.00

Call 817 272-1183 or e-mail planetarium@uta.edu