??? Once again the EPA is in the news as Rep. Henry Waxman, (D-Calif) of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee subpoenaed documents reviewed by the agency’s administrator before he blocked a California tailpipe emissions law. There have been indications that the EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson overruled EPA staff who recommended granting the waiver.

??? What California wants to do and along with twelve other states – Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington – was to require automakers to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by 30 percent in new cars and light trucks by 2016. This would bring the fuel economy standards up to 36.8 mpg four years earlier four years earlier than the new federal law which would result in a nationwide average of 35 mpg by 2020. The governors of four other states -Arizona, Colorado, Florida and Utah – said they also planned to adopt Californias newer tougher rules.

??? According to congressional investigators there are EPA internal documents that said California had a compelling need for the waiver, and that EPA was likely to lose in court if sued over denying it. But once again our executive branch seems to be in the pockets of big business. They have also lost a suit in federal court because they were ignoring the law when they imposed less stringent requirements on power plants to reduce mercury pollution. A three-judge panel – U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia – unanimously struck down a mercury-control plan imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency three years ago. It established an emissions trading process in which some plants could avoid installing the best mercury control technology available by buying pollution credits. such trading of pollution credits would have created hot spots of mercury contamination around power plants across the country. Power plants are one of the biggest sources of of mercury, which finds its way into the food supply, particularly fish. Mercury damages developing brains of fetuses and very young children.

??? The court decision was the latest in a string of judicial losses for the Bush administration’s environmental policies. You may remember that I mentioned them losing a battle for not regulating greenhouse gases. Courts have also rejected administration attempts to overhaul federal forest policies and streamline fuel economy standards for small trucks. The policy as established under the Clinton Administration required utilities to capture more than 90 percent of mercury releases. The standard as set by the Bush administrations approach was to capture 70 percent of mercury emissions. “This three-judge panel has done the world a favor and helped save lives,” said Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. Connecticut was one of the states that participated in the lawsuit. EPA spokesman Jonathan Shradar said, “This rule is still our policy until we evaluate how to move forward.”

??? It sounds to me as if they are going to drag their feet as long as possible allowing pollution to go on as long as possible so as to generate more profits for the big businesses that seem to have our Environmental Protection Agency in their pockets. Hopefully an administration change will return the EPA back to the role of protecting the citizens and not big business.

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