When the Environmental Protection Agency was created in 1970 during Richard Nixon‘s administration, its aim was well-defined: protect human health and the environment.

In its action last week deflecting state attempts to impose tough greenhouse gas emission standards on motor vehicles, the EPA is acting more like the Polluter Protection Agency, defending the interests of the oil and auto industries rather than those of the public.California, and 15 other states, filed suit on the second of January 2008 against the Environmental Protection Agency for rejecting its plan to limit greenhouse gases on cars, trucks, and SUVs. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said the Bush administration is “ignoring the will of millions” by ruling that Congress’ recent boost in fuel-efficiency standards makes California‘s own emissions law unnecessary. The 1970 Clean Air Act allows states to set their own emission rules if they receive a waiver from the feds; the EPA refused on Dec. 19 to grant California’s request. California Attorney General Jerry Brown called the denial “shocking in its incoherence and utter failure to provide legal justification for the administrator’s unprecedented action”. The EPA has done nothing to curb greenhouse gases despite a Supreme Court ruling that requires them to treat greenhouse gases as a pollutant and therefor a threat to our air.

Twelve other states – Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington – have adopted California’s emissions standards, and others have said they plan to do so. The 12 states, along with Arizona, Delaware and Illinois, said Wednesday that they plan to intervene in support of California.

It was the first time the EPA had fully denied California a waiver under the Clean Air Act . The EPA’s decision was a victory for automakers, who had argued they would be forced to reduce their selection of vehicles and raise prices in states that adopted California’s standards. California’s air board is reviewing other measures it could impose on automobile manufacturers if the lawsuit fails or delays the state’s regulations from taking effect.

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