We've already pointed out that in its lame justification of the denial of California's waiver application, EPA smuggled in a new standard: that California has to show that the problems it's addressing are not global but local in order to get a waiver.
But even by this pulled-out-of-the-air standard, California has completely justified its waiver request. Global warming will in fact create "compelling and extraordinary" conditions in California. To take one example, heat is an essential ingredient in the toxic stew of ozone. A warmer climate means more days on which ozone is likely to form. And where are the very worst spots for ozone in the nation? According to EPA, they are all in California, which has the nation's ONLY "severe" ozone non-attainment area (Los Angeles), and the nation's ONLY "serious" ozone non-attainment areas (Sacramento, Riverside, San Joaquin).
To give another example, global warming will have a severe impact on California's water supplies. According to research sponsored by the US Department of Energy,
In the Central Valley of California, it will be impossible to meet current water sustem performance levels; impacts will be felt in reduced reliability of water supply deliveries, hydropwer production and in-stream flows. With less fresh water available, the Sacramento Delta could experience a dramatic increase in salinity and subsequent ecosystem disruption.
California will also suffer because global warming causes reduced snowpack levels, and the snowpack acts as a natural reservoir. Snowpack is a major source of drinking water for San Francisco, and probably constitutes about a third of California's overall surface water supply.
How is this not compelling and extraordinary? Administrator Johnson's explanation only makes sense if "extraordinary" means "exclusive to California," and not "really, really bad in California and somewhat less bad elsewhere." But that's an untenable read for two reasons (explained after the jump).
First, if California can only use the 209 waiver process to address conditions that occur only in California and nowhere else, then it makes no sense to allow other states to adopt California car standards. There would be no reason for it, since the other states would be trying to solve problems they don't have.
Second, the Supreme Court said in Mass v. EPA that the fact that global warming causes widespread harms is no reason to ignore the particular harms felt by a state seeking a remedy (slip op. p. 19-21). "Where a harm is concrete, though widely shared, the Court has found 'injury in fact.'" Johnson is hanging on to the very reasoning that the Court discredited in Mass v. EPA. Maybe that's why EPA's lawyers told Johnson that if he denied the wavier and California sued, "EPA [is] likely to lose suit."
When will Johnson learn that it's better just to follow the law --as it is written, not as he'd like it to be written-- the first time?