Listen to the States NYT Editorial

Written by  //  October 27, 2007  //  Climate Change, Environment & Energy, Politics, U.S.  //  Comments Off on Listen to the States NYT Editorial

October 27, 2007

For years, most of the important initiatives to deal with global warming have been undertaken at the state and local level, while Washington has largely dithered. This is still true. The hope, as always, is that pressure from below will jolt Washington from its slumber.
Last week, Gov. Eliot Spitzer issued strong regulations aimed at cutting emissions of carbon dioxide, the main global warming gas, from New York power plants. Next week Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California will file a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency for holding up efforts by his state and others to restrict carbon dioxide emissions from cars and trucks.
Mr. Spitzer’s regulations are aimed at meeting New York’s responsibilities under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, an agreement among 10 Eastern states. The regulations seek a big reduction in emissions from New York’s power plants, the source of about one-quarter of the state’s overall greenhouse gas emissions.
One goal of the initiative is to drive producers of older plants to greater efficiencies and to encourage the development of alternative power sources and cleaner technologies. The states also hope to pressure Congress to move quickly on a national mandatory emissions program like the one in a Senate bill sponsored by Joseph Lieberman and John Warner.
California’s lawsuit is similarly intended to shake up Washington. For over two years, California has been seeking permission to impose its own emissions standards on cars and light trucks, which it can do under the Clean Air Act once it gets a federal waiver. At least a dozen states are ready to follow once permission is granted.
The automobile industry does not want California to get that authority, and Mr. Bush’s E.P.A. has been in no hurry to grant it. But one by one, the federal courts have been demolishing the agency’s excuses for not acting. In April, the Supreme Court ruled that the agency had clear authority to regulate automobile emissions of carbon dioxide. And last month, a federal court in Vermont ruled that automakers were fully capable of meeting the California standards.
The states can take some satisfaction from the fact that Mr. Bush now concedes, at least rhetorically, that global warming is a problem and that he cares about it. One practical way for him to show his concern would be to grant California its waiver and to get behind efforts in Congress to control emissions.

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