House bill would override EPA waiver ruling

Most members of the Bay Area’s House delegation are among original cosponsors of the Right to Clean Vehicles Act, a bill introduced today which would force the Environmental Protection Agency to grant a waiver giving California and 12 other states the ability to implement limits on greenhouse-gas emissions from cars.

The bill — authored by Reps. Brad Sherman, D-Sherman Oaks, and Peter Welch, D-Vt. – comes in reaction to EPA Administrator Steve Johnson’s December denial of California’s waiver, reportedly even over his own staff’s objections. U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., already has introduced an equivalent Senate bill, and as chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has raked Johnson over the coals in a Capitol Hill hearing.

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, issued a news release expressing her support for the House bill.

“There is simply no excuse for the Bush administration to deny California’s waiver, or any other state’s effort to combat global warming and promote the use of cleaner, more efficient vehicles on their roads,” she said. “The Right to Clean Vehicles Act will give a much-needed green light to states taking the right approach to achieving a greener future and I am proud to support it.”

Besides Lee, the bill’s 58 original cosponsors include Reps. Dennis Cardoza, D-Atwater; Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto; Mike Honda, D-San Jose; Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose; George Miller, D-Martinez; Pete Stark, D-Fremont; Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo; and Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma.

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, wasn’t listed among the original cosponsors in Sherman’s news release, but spokesman Andy Stone just told me McNerney fully supports it as well — he just hadn’t had time to fully review it and sign on before the authors went public today, but should be listed among the cosponsors by next week.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • jh

    Why doesn’t California simply remove the catalytic converters they mandated on cars ? They do cause an increase of over 20% in CO2 emissions….Almost as good as their requirement of MTBE’s in fuel despite concerns of oil companies about everything bad that might happen and did.

  • Catherine

    Alternative Energies are also Destructive and Evil — How can Alternative Energies be good when they require materials that originated from places that all environmentalists say are “evil and destructive”? Alternative Energies require “bad” materials for assembly, such as ceramics, carbons, and metals from Mines, and sometimes plastics and other carbon-based materials, which originate from Oil Wells and Coal mines that environmental groups say are all “evil and destructive”. Even “natural” plant fiber materials require machinery and processing and transportation, which also require metals, ceramics, and carbon.

    From where do we get the SOURCE materials for wind mills, fuel cells, hydrogen and other alternative energies? Most solar electric panels require ceramics and special elements, such as gallium, arsenic, germanium, etc., that came from mines and smelters. Windmills require metals (originally from mines and smelters). Passive and active solar ventilation and tubing for houses usually require metals and sometimes ceramics, which came from mines and smelters.

    Environmental groups say that ALL Mining and Oil / Gas Wells are “bad” and “evil”, even with full-scale reclamations and restorations. So how can we go to Alternative Energies when these requires materials that are not accepted by the Environmentalists?

    Even fuel cells require materials originally from mines and smelters. Fuel cells have to have metals and / or ceramics for the containment, tubing, chemical reactions, etc. The cells, containments and associated materials use materials from mines and oil wells. Think about the engineered things used to even make hydrogen fuel get started for producing energy.

    Look at the Periodic Table of all the elements of the earth. Hydrogen (H2) is a usually a gas. When hydrogen is used in a chemical bonding or mixture, it is usually released as a single free ion (H- or H+). Sometimes getters are used to store and transport hydrogen.

    It is the cells and containments and associated materials that use materials from mines and oil wells. Go and look at the engineered things used to even make hydrogen get started!

    To make Hydrogen “burn” and gain energy from it, there must be the chambers, vessels, tubing, connections and fittings. A characteristic of Hydrogen is that is can embrittle materials over time, especially certain types of metals and steels. Normally stainless steels or other specialty metals are used for most Hydrogen activities. These steels and steels are composed of iron and sometimes chromium and / or nickel to control any corrosion from Hydrogen and also prevent embrittlement as much as possible. The materials for steels ALL come from mines and smelters.

    But how is hydrogen (H2 and the H ions) produced from water or other source materials? Either in the reaction apparatus and chambers of the cars or else in processing plants, both of which use metals and ceramics and plastics. If we get H2 from the air, we get it from gas separators which are composed of metals and other “bad” materials.

    Environmentalist point to bicycles as environmentally-friendly transportation. To make bicycles, manufacturers must get materials that originated from mining operations (iron, molybdenum, aluminum, ceramics, etc.), oil wells and coal mines for Carbon and plastic materials, and sometime timber for wood. These materials are then processed in plants that also use products from mining and oil wells, and use electricity. How can this be “good” by any environmentalist’s definitions?

    Look at how many existing Wilderness Areas have abandoned oil / gas wells and also mining sites within their boundaries. Why is that permissible? How is it that reclamations of well drilling sites are either ignored or denied by the environmental groups now? There have been many private groups in the Pacific Northwest (like my grade school in the 1960’s) that went out and planted trees, grass, and shrubs in the forests. We even saw some of the lumber companies replanting trees and shrubs. But apparently, none of those good efforts count in the mind of the environmental groups, as seen in recent publications and notifications.

    Take a deeper look at what really is going on. Natural resources are needed for everything in our lives, even medical items and alternative energies. But when our natural resources are being closed up and as reclamations are either ignored or badmouthed, we are loosing the materials needed for our daily lives, even for the “nice” Alternative Energies. As a final note, my 1990 car gets the same gas mileage GPM as a modern hybrid car. Go figure.

    In a publication from early 1992, the Sierra Club in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA, openly announced that oil / gas well drillers were still using lead-based (Pb) lubricants. Never mind that the EPA banned their use several years before in the mid-1980s and that the drilling industry had already switched to biodegradable lubricants even before that. Never mind that law enforcement and the EPA later on checked for compliance in the industry. Also, there is new drilling technology, called Coiled Tubing, that allows certain types of well drilling operations from the back of a pickup, thus less impacts than the vehicles you drive. Why don’t we don’t hear that from the Environmentalists.

    Are you familiar with the wilderness near Ruidoso, NM, USA? The wilderness boundaries “captured” some gold and silver / lead mines. The government threatened to sue the mine and claim owners with EPA Superfund status if they did not surrender the land for wilderness designation. Now how is it that places that are supposedly EPA Superfund sites can now be “wilderness” and untouched areas? The 1964 Wilderness Act specified that undeveloped, untouched, and natural areas were to be part of the wilderness areas.

    retired Univ. of California technical staff member

  • RD

    Politicians line up to support clean air bill? So California is becoming its own country now?

  • RD

    Politicians line up to support clean air bill? So California is its own country now?