Obama Joins Boxer, Senators to Introduce Bill to Reverse EPA

Press Release

By:  Barack Obama II
Date: Jan. 25, 2008
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, introduced legislation today that would direct the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to grant California a waiver under the Clean Air Act to cut global warming pollution from motor vehicles.

Cosponsors of the bill include Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Joseph Lieberman (ID, CT), Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Christopher Dodd (D-CT), John Kerry (D-MA), Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Susan Collins (R-ME), Bill Nelson (D-FL.) Barack Obama (D, IL), and Roberts Menendez (D-NJ).

Senator Boxer said, "Administrator Johnson's decision to deny the waiver was not supported by the facts, by the law, by the science, or by precedent. I will use every available tool to ensure that California and the nation are able to reduce the pollution that causes global warming. One of those tools is legislation that essentially overturns Mr. Johnson's actions."

Senator Obama said, "Effectively tackling global warming demands bold and innovative solutions, and given the failure of this Administration to act, California should be allowed to pioneer. I commend Chairman Boxer for her leadership on this bill and on working to eliminate the damaging consequences of climate change around the world."

Senator Feinstein said, "It's become clear that Administrator Johnson's denial of California's waiver was based on politics, not science. Even the EPA's own experts have said that there was a compelling need for action. So, today, Senator Boxer and I have introduced legislation to take this decision out of the hands of the EPA - and allow California to move ahead with curbing tailpipe emissions. Bottom line: I'm committed to protecting California's landmark global warming efforts - and will do everything in my power to ensure that this Administration doesn't stand in the way."

Senator Lieberman said, "The vision and leadership of California, Connecticut, and the other states that have moved to curb global warming pollution from cars should be rewarded by the grant of authority to implement the states' programs. In the wake of the Bush administration's failure to follow federal law and deliver the needed authority, we in Congress must step in with legislation that gives the states the go-ahead to fight climate change."

Senator Clinton said, "It is outrageous that the Bush Administration chose to block the efforts of New York, California and many other states that want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles. Chairman Boxer's continued oversight on this issue is critically important, and I am proud to join with her in introducing legislation to overturn EPA's wrongheaded decision and allow states to move forward on global warming."

Senator Lautenberg said: "It's bad enough the Bush Administration has been sitting on its hands and done virtually nothing to fight global warming, but now it's trying to block states from taking strong action on their own. Our legislation would work to overturn this misguided decision and allow states like New Jersey and California to continue their efforts to reduce greenhouse gases and combat global warming."

Senator Cardin said, "The EPA has clearly chosen to ignore the issue of global warming. It's time that States are allowed to take meaningful action to protect the health of their citizens by reducing greenhouse gas emissions."

Senator Sanders told the EPA administrator, "If you can't do the right thing, at least get out of the way of California, Vermont and other states. If we do not move aggressively, this planet is in danger."

Senator Whitehouse said, "Allowing Rhode Island and all these states to set tough vehicle emissions standards is one of the strongest and most common-sense steps we can take to begin to tackle the enormous challenge of global warming. But once again, this administration has put blind ideology before science; once again, this administration has let politics govern policy; and once again, this administration has taken an action that will directly undermine our efforts to protect our environment and safeguard public health. I applaud Chairman Boxer's commitment to addressing this issue and am proud to cosponsor this important bill."

Senator Kennedy said, "It's extremely unfortunate that the Administration has stood in the way of states' efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles. I commend Senator Boxer for her leadership in filing this bill, which is so vital to states like Massachusetts and California which are ready to do the things necessary to curb global warming in spite of the obstacles EPA has set."

Senator Leahy said, "The Bush Administration has been AWOL or worse on air quality issues, and now they even want to undermine states like California and Vermont that are trying to pick up the slack. They won't lead and they won't follow, so the Boxer bill would force them at least to get out of the way and stop obstructing states like ours that are trying to lead on clean air policy."

Senator Dodd said, "The EPA's decision in December to deny the request by California, Connecticut, and 15 other states for the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles was a politically-motivated roadblock erected to stop responsible solutions to the growing problem of global warming. Indeed, evidence suggests that EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson ignored the advice of his own climate experts, who recommended that this request be approved. This bill restores those efforts to address one of the most pressing issues of our day. I thank Senator Boxer for her leadership on this issue and am committed to seeing this important piece of legislation passed."

Senator Kerry said, "If the Bush Administration refuses to combat climate change, they at least need to get out of the way when the states do. California needs this waiver, and deserves a lot of credit for meeting an environmental challenge with the reform it demands."

Senator Mikulski said, "The world is facing a climate crisis and we must act now. Maryland and a number of other states have already joined California in setting a higher bar to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles than the federal government has. The country is looking to us for leadership. As we continue to assist our manufacturing industries in making this transition, we need to set the standard so states can do the right thing."

Senator Snowe said, "I am deeply disappointed that the Administration failed to follow the statute outlined in the Clean Air Act that allows California to adopt distinct environmental laws. This is a setback for Maine and as well as our national environmental stewardship. Although I am confident that the court system will ultimately overturn this decision, I am troubled that this Administration has unnecessarily delayed enactment of a strong curtailment of greenhouse gas emissions. This legislation will allow the states to move forward with enacting strong reductions in green house gas emissions filling the void of federal action."

Senator Collins said, "Climate change is one of the most daunting challenges we face and we must develop reasonable solutions to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. If states, like my home state of Maine, establish reasonable standards to help address this serious problem, the federal government should not stand in the way."

Senator Nelson said, "The failure of the Bush administration to allow states to clean up auto emissions means that Congress is going to have to step in and pass this legislation."

Sen. Menendez said: "Our planet is in peril and this administration simply refuses to let anyone do very much about it. Under this administration, the EPA is acting like the 'Environmental Pollution Agency'. Since they won't act, states that want to undertake serious efforts to clean our air should not have their hands tied. New Jersey is one of those states and I will stand up for our right to help save our planet. I applaud Chairwoman Boxer for her leadership on this issue."

The bill introduced today directs the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to grant California's request for the waiver, which will allow California to implement its greenhouse gas emissions standards for motor vehicles. The waiver will also permit other states to adopt California's emissions standards.

Fourteen other states have adopted California's standards, or are in the process of adopting them. Another four are moving toward adopting the California standards. All together, those 19 states represent more than 152,000,000 Americans - a majority of the U.S. population.