Add another huge contradiction to the list of debunked administration reasons for denying California's GHG emissions waiver, courtesy of EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson's contorted argument that while California indeed faces "substantial" impacts as a result of climate change, those conditions are "not sufficiently different from conditions in the nation as a whole to justify separate state standards." Aside from being yet another legal invention, this assertion is simply not true-- and research sponsored by EPA proves it, as Stanford professor Mark Z. Jacobson writes in the San Francisco Chronicle (emphasis added):
There is still one more special circumstance that rises above these others. This circumstance is that global warming currently causes greater respiratory and cardiovascular disease in California per person than in other states through its impact on air pollution. This factor is particularly relevant to the EPA's charge, given its primary responsibility to "protect the public health" through "improving the quality of the nation's air," according to the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1970.
The adverse air pollution health impacts due to global warming were determined from research I conducted, which was published Feb. 12 in the peer-reviewed journal, Geophysical Research Letters. The paper provides evidence that people in California are harmed more than people outside of California due to carbon dioxide's effect on air pollution. Johnson should have been aware of this study because his agency funded a portion of the research, and results from the study were presented to the EPA in October 2007.
Shorter version: Johnson's clearly twisting this one around to his benefit (and in the process definitely not helping his dealings with angry EPA staff members, who claim the waiver ruling is not an isolated incident). Akin Gump's Jeremy Schiffer predicts the debate on this particular matter will figure heavily in legal proceedings regarding EPA's decision. He's probably right, though it's actually part and parcel of a deeper pattern of pretzel-like logic in Friday's "final decision" document.
There's nuanced legal language, and there's legal rhetoric constructed to justify a pre-determined result, and it's difficult to escape the conclusion that the latter is at play here-- and others across the nation are reaching that conclusion as well. The Republican Governor of Connecticut, Jodi Rell, has announced that, in reaction to EPA's expanded stance against California (and, by extension, her state), she has asked Senator Joseph Lieberman to step up legislative efforts to overturn the decision.
Rell's letter notes that if anything, the
new spin legal logic put forth by EPA, combined with additional revelations about overruled staff recommendations, has convinced her even more strongly that Administrator Johnson made this up as he went along. She goes so far as to write that, "In fact, it seems the Administrator’s decision was a tapestry woven with contradictory and implausible explanations in the face of professional guidance by EPA professional staff.”
Indeed, Johnson's email response to this kind of criticism-- that he based his decision solely on "the facts and the law"-- is almost impossible to square with multiple contradictions in Friday's document. That's true whether he is advancing an extremely broad view of what the Clean Air Act empowers him to "reasonably" decide (at the expense of deference to California's judgment) while claiming to not really depart from established precedent, or claiming that acknowledgments of the nationwide scope of carbon impacts on climate change have no bearing on a much-delayed national endangerment finding for CO2.
The document that Johnson released on Friday offers a more thought-out argument than he's offerred to date-- it's certainly an improvement on December's legally-irrelevant posturing about CAFE standards and non-existent "patchwork quilts," though that's not saying much. Still, it teems with evidence that this is an argument pieced together on the fly, as opposed to the well-thought-out result of months of deliberation. Suspicions about a politicized decision were added to by the fact that it was announced months before a legal justification was ready, and the past week's events have only heightened that sense.