Bush White House and Department of Transportation Attempt End Run Around States Rights and Congressional Intent

Well gosh, that didn’t take long did it? (re: my last post).

State governors ever vigilant against Bush Administration

In the “What, Do You Think We’re Stupid?” category California State Attorney General brought to the public’s attention yesterday a bit of fine print buried on page 357 of a DOT proposal to put into place tougher CAFE standards as required from last year’s energy act.

To wit:

…any state regulation regulating tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles is expressly pre-empted.

Astute citizens may remember that car makers tried – and failed – to insert similar language in the energy bill last year.

Governors from 12 states led by Arnold Schwarzenegger will have none of it, contending that such language will

usurp congressional authority and patently subvert the clear intent of Congress.

That hasn’t stopped Bush in the past, and it won’t stop him until he slips away back to Crawford.

Click on the link below for the full text of the letters the Governors sent to the White House and Congress: 

April 23, 2008

The President
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

We are disappointed that your administration has chosen not to support our efforts to make real progress in controlling greenhouse gas emissions. On Tuesday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) used a proposed rulemaking on Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards in an attempt to preempt our states and others across the nation that are working to control greenhouse gas emissions. States must take this action because the federal government has not adequately responded to this urgent threat.

NHTSA has no authority to preempt states from regulating greenhouse gases. Congress and two federal district courts have rejected NHTSA's claim to such authority. Furthermore, this attack completely undermines the cooperative federalism principles embodied in the Clean Air Act, and is an end run around 40 years of precedent under that law.

Our states intend to comment on the proposed rulemaking and, if necessary, will sue NHTSA, just as California and other states have sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, to ensure that states retain the right to reduce global climate change emissions. We hope that you will reconsider this rulemaking on CAFE in light of the crucial efforts undertaken by states to address greenhouse gas emissions. We look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger Governor Janet Napolitano
California Arizona

Governor M. Jodi Rell Governor Martin O'Malley
Connecticut Maryland

Governor Deval Patrick Governor Jon S. Corzine
Massachusetts New Jersey

Governor Bill Richardson Governor David Paterson
New York New Mexico

Governor Theodore R. Kulongoski Governor Edward G. Rendell
Oregon Pennsylvania

Governor James H. Douglas Governor Christine O. Gregoire
Vermont Washington

cc: The Honorable Mary E. Peters

————-

 April 23, 2008

The Honorable Harry Reid The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Majority Leader Speaker of the House
United States Senate U. S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20510 Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Mitch McConnell The Honorable John A. Boehner
Minority Leader Minority Leader
United States Senate U. S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20510 Washington, DC 20515

Dear Senator Reid, Senator McConnell, Madam Speaker, and Mr. Boehner,

We are writing to bring to your attention a cynical attempt by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to unilaterally rewrite the Clean Air Act and claim authority over greenhouse gas emissions.

On Tuesday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) used a proposed rulemaking implementing the Energy Independence and Security Act's Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) provisions to attempt to preempt California and states across the nation that are taking steps to control greenhouse gas emissions. NHTSA's proposed action is a direct assault on the authority of the United States Congress and the states.

In passing the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA), Congress expressly provided that increasing fuel economy standards would not limit the authority of existing laws and regulations. Yet DOT has taken the charge given it by Congress - to issue new fuel-economy rules - and used it to propose a radical redefinition of federal law that would sabotage critical provisions of the Clean Air Act. NHTSA argues that, because fuel economy is "related to" greenhouse gases, DOT has the authority to deny state greenhouse gas regulations.

NHTSA's proposal flies in the face of court rulings on existing law. The U.S. Supreme Court found in Massachusetts v. EPA that the authority on which the states rely in regulating greenhouse gases from automobiles is "a statutory obligation wholly independent of DOT's mandate to promote energy efficiency." Two federal district courts have also specifically ruled that state vehicle regulations are not preempted by Congress's improvements to CAFE.

In issuing this interpretation, NHTSA is also doing an end run around Congress in claiming authority over greenhouse gas regulation from automobiles. In the Clean Air Act, Congress granted the Environmental Protection Agency - not NHTSA - authority over air pollution, including greenhouse gases. While Congress is in the midst of careful deliberations on its approach to greenhouse gas regulation in the future, it should not permit the executive branch to dictate an outcome to that discussion.

This action by the administration would directly usurp congressional authority and patently subvert the clear intent of Congress in important legislation related to energy use. We urge you to protest this provision of the NHTSA rulemaking and insist on a CAFE regulation in keeping with the intent and prerogative of Congress.

Sincerely,

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger Governor Janet Napolitano
California Arizona

Governor M. Jodi Rell Governor Martin O'Malley
Connecticut Maryland

Governor Deval Patrick Governor Jon S. Corzine
Massachusetts New Jersey

Governor Bill Richardson Governor David Paterson
New Mexico New York

Governor Theodore R. Kulongoski Governor Edward G. Rendell
Oregon Pennsylvania

Governor James H. Douglas Governor Christine O. Gregoire
Vermont Washington

cc: Members of the California Congressional Delegation
Members of the Arizona Congressional Delegation
Members of the Connecticut Congressional Delegation
Members of the Maryland Congressional Delegation
Members of the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation
Members of the New Jersey Congressional Delegation
Members of the New Mexico Congressional Delegation
Members of the New York Congressional Delegation
Members of the Oregon Congressional Delegation
Members of the Pennsylvania Congressional Delegation
Members of the Vermont Congressional Delegation
Members of the Washington Congressional Delegation

Sources and Further Reading
Grist
SFGate
Los Angeles Times
Office of the Governor – California

Tags: CAFE+standards, DOT, department+of+transportation

Comments