Last year, conservation groups Oceana, Friends of the Earth, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Earthjustice, filed comprehensive petitions to Stephen L. Johnson, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, urging the agency to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from two major non-road transportation sources: the shipping and aircraft industries. Their efforts were strengthened by similar petitions filed by the State of California and numerous other states and local governments. Yet to date, the agency has failed to take any meaningful action to respond to these petitions or to address the significant global warming pollution from ships and aircraft.
"It's another example of the Bush administration riding roughshod over our system of checks and balances, hidden behind a thin regulatory veil," said Jacqueline Savitz, senior campaign director for Oceana. "They are blatantly disregarding an order from the Supreme Court," she added.
As federal appeals court judge David S. Tatel recently wrote in a related case, "The EPA has postponed -- now indefinitely -- deciding whether greenhouse gas emissions endanger public health and welfare, calling into question whether the agency's desire to promulgate regulations...is simply an excuse to avoid complying with the statute."
According to information revealed at Congressional hearings as well as in news reports, the EPA found in December that CO2 emissions endanger public health and welfare. Yet there is strong evidence that White House officials blocked publication of the EPA scientific staff's findings.
The Bush administration's refusal to act demonstrates its intention to leave this urgent problem for the incoming administration.
"EPA has a legal obligation to issue a meaningful response to the petitions," said Martin Wagner, Earthjustice attorney. "This ANPR is simply the latest in what has become a long series of Bush administration attempts to avoid addressing one of the most serious problems of our time."
Earthjustice filed petitions on behalf of the aforementioned conservation groups with the Administrator of the EPA on October 3 and December 5, 2007. The 180-day deadline for an administration response to the joint petitions has passed.
"The Bush administration's refusal to respond to the Supreme Court and do something about global warming is not just illegal, it is grossly immoral," said Danielle Fugere of Friends of the Earth. "President Bush's inaction in the face of this crisis is one of the greatest failures of leadership in presidential history."
"The real world consequences of Bush's stubborn opposition to solutions to global warming will be extinction for the polar bear and thousands of other plants and animals," said Kassie Siegel, climate, air and energy program director for the Center for Biological Diversity. "We can do better and Americans deserve better than this endless delay."
Brian Smith, Earthjustice, (510) 550-6714, (415) 320-9384
Dianne Saenz, Oceana, (202) 467-1909