Can states cut carbon? EPA says no.
California's bid to set tougher auto-emissions standards has been stymied by the Bush administration. Now the courts will decide.
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Anything that makes air pollution worse can be harmful to Californians, many scientists contend. A recent study by atmospheric scientist Mark Jacobson at Stanford University concludes that warmer temperatures would mean fewer winds to blow pollution out of cities. Higher levels of water vapor in the air could also help catalyze the production of ozone, the main component of smog, the study says. The online news service ScienceNOW quotes two scientists:Skip to next paragraph
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" 'This work adds an important component to our overall understanding of the links between greenhouse gas emissions and adverse health impacts today,' says Kim Knowlton of Columbia University and the Natural Resources Defense Council in New York City. Bart Croes, a staff scientist at the state of California's official Air Resources Board in Sacramento, says the work's finding bolsters the state's argument that it should be allowed to set controls for air pollution that are stricter than national standards, including limits on CO2 emissions."
"Automakers said trying to meet both federal efficiency standards and another, stricter standard adopted by states would add huge production costs and increase prices."
The California rules would require automakers to make vehicles that get 44 miles per gallon by 2020 – more than a new federal law requiring an increase to 35 miles per gallon by 2020. The San Francisco Chronicle reported:
"The ruling has even become an issue in the presidential race, with the leading Democrats, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, and the likely GOP nominee John McCain, all saying they back the states' efforts to set tougher rules."
The fight has revealed a rift between political appointee Johnson and the EPA's legal and technical staff, who argued that California's request was warranted and that rejecting it would not survive a court challenge. In an opinion piece, the Eugene, Ore., Register-Guard said:
"EPA staffers made the case that California's global warming problems are, in fact, 'compelling and extraordinary.' They include the loss of coastline due to rising sea levels, diminishing water supplies through reduced snowpacks, wildfires, air pollution, insect infestations, and ozone problems."
California and other states have filed suit to overturn Johnson's decision.