12.19.07

Whitehouse Slams EPA's Denial of R.I. Request to Set Tough Pollution Standards

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse sharply criticized the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s decision tonight to deny long-overdue waiver requests that would allow Rhode Island and several other states to crack down on pollution from cars and trucks on their roadways. Under the Clean Air Act, states cannot set their own pollution control standards without a waiver from EPA.

"The EPA's ruling is disgraceful," said Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) committee. "The Bush administration's refusal to carry out the duties imposed on it by the Clean Air Act have polluted our air and water, further endangered the health of millions of Americans, and cost us precious time in our fight to address the looming threat of global warming. We can't afford to delay strong steps to address global climate change. We will keep fighting to pressure this administration to do the right thing and allow states like Rhode Island to take action."

The standards proposed by the states would cut greenhouse gas pollutants by 392 million metric tons by 2020 - a reduction equivalent to taking 74 million cars off the road for an entire year, according to a report by Environment Rhode Island.

During an EPW Committee hearing in April, Whitehouse took EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson to task over the agency's continued failure to address the waiver requests. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court ruled in Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency that EPA does, in fact, have the authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate vehicle CO2 emissions, contrary to the agency's insistence otherwise. In November, California Attorney General Jerry Brown filed suit against the EPA for its refusal to issue a decision on the waivers.

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