Yesterday's Baltimore Sun had this lucid overview of how EPA is blocking the efforts of a dozen states to implement clean car laws, based on California's greenhouse gas emissions standards for new cars and trucks. As we've reported before, a bill is pending in Congress to force EPA to grant California a waiver for its standards by the end of September.
What's especially illuminating in the article are the frank admissions by Maryland lawmakers (Maryland recently adopted the California standards) that they'd really rather the federal government tackle this problem.
"It's very important that states be able to move forward, particularly until we can have an enforceable federal cap in place," said Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, a Maryland Democrat who is one of the lawmakers backing legislation that would require the agency to issue a ruling by Sept. 30. "Unfortunately, inaction is action."
And one of the sponsors of the Maryland emissions law puts it much more directly:
"If we can find some ways to mitigate in small ways the things that we do in the aggregate, like burn carbon fuel, if we can limit that even just a little bit, it can have a salutary impact," said state Sen. Brian E. Frosh, a Montgomery County Democrat who sponsored the legislation in Maryland. "The way that that works the best is to have national standards. And when you can't have that ... having states do it individually is the second best way."
Funnily enough, that's very similar to what the car manufacturers are saying:
"What we're trying to avoid is a patchwork quilt," said Charles Territo, a spokesman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers in Washington. "It would make it very difficult for manufacturers to offer the same types of vehicles to consumers they currently offer."
We've voiced our strong skepticism about carmakers' claims that they can't meet the standards. We'd love to take them at their word that they don't want a patchwork quilt. Nobody seems to want a patchwork quilt, which suggests that there is an opportunity for common ground on federal standards. Will the automakers keep bemoaning state standards, or will they come to the table and hammer out serious federal greenhouse emissions limits?