As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, January 23, 2009

News Of The Good: EPA Waiver For California Imminent

It's worthwhile every so often to look for the silver lining in the storm clouds over this state. After all, we do have a new President! That seems to be working out! And his pick for EPA Administrator, Lisa Jackson, was confirmed last night. Which means that it's probably only a matter of days before California gets its long-sought waiver to regulate tailpipe emissions.

With a new occupant in the White House, California could soon start enforcing its landmark 2002 law requiring a sharp reduction in vehicle emissions.

State leaders and environmentalists are pressing for quick approval of a waiver that would let California and at least 13 other states impose tougher air-quality standards than allowed under federal law. The Bush administration rejected the request a year ago, but that could be reversed by President Barack Obama and his environmental team.

During the presidential campaign, Obama said he backed the California law. Last year, he co-sponsored a bill by Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer of California to approve the waiver.

"If I'm confirmed, I will immediately revisit the waiver," Lisa Jackson, Obama's choice to head the Environmental Protection Agency, told Boxer at her confirmation hearing last week.

This would set in motion a program to reduce emissions from vehicles by 30 percent over the next seven years. It would spur alternative transportation development like SUPERTRAINS out of necessity, and force the production of clean-energy vehicles. Industry was not going to innovate on their own; they had 30 years to recognize this problem but they sat on their hands. It's not a question of whether or not we can afford to implement this; given the natural disasters like wildfires that hit the state with increasing frequency, given the melting of the Sierra snowpack which decreases our access to water resources, given the public health effects of dirty air (a recent report showed that clean air increases lifespans by up to three years), given all the ancillary costs of climte change, we can't afford not to.

The Governor and state leaders have been lobbying for the waiver since President Obama's inauguration, and I'm confident that we'll see granting within the next week.

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