EPA's Most Wanted List: Will The Ironies Ever End?

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled a new most-wanted list that focuses on environmental fugitives. These are folks that have done things like smuggled harmful chemicals, dumped hazardous waste into rivers and trafficked in polluting cars.

I must admit that I find it a bit ironic that the very agency that refused to grant California a waiver to regulate tailpipe emissions for greenhouse gases, has climbed up on its eco-horse to point fingers. You see, in 2006, California approved a law requiring the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2020. The state hoped to make use of its 2002 tailpipe law regulating vehicle emissions to achieve that goal. But in order for that to happen, California was required to get a waiver from the EPA. The EPA denied that waiver in 2007. Since then, 17 other states have joined California, and the EPA has continued to drag its feet...despite legal action that has since been taken.

Sure, some scumbag dumping 487 tons of wheat tainted with diesel fuel into the South China Sea should certainly be held accountable (this is the crime allegedly committed by John Karayannides, who is listed, with a mugshot on the EPA's list). But by the EPA's efforts to deny individual states the right to protect their environment, aren't they just as guilty when it comes to committing eco-crimes?

Better yet, is it out of the question to accuse the EPA of contributing to the auto-makers' downfall by stifling progress on new, fuel-efficient vehicles? Had the EPA supported the states' rights to enact stricter tailpipe emissions laws, then perhaps the auto-makers would've been pressured to abandon their defensive position against real fuel economy standards.

Now before you start drafting your hate e-mails, know that this question is merely presented in an effort to spark dialogue. As far as I know, there's no quantifiable evidence to support this argument. But certainly it does make one wonder how the EPA decides what's environmentally damaging, and what is not.

In this case, the environmental benefits are really quite clear: By implementing California's standards, the Golden State would be able to eliminate greenhouse gases equivalent to taking 6.5 million cars off the road by 2020. If all 50 states followed California's example, that figure would grow to nearly 22 million vehicles. And if the environmental benefits don't interest you, perhaps the energy security benefits will. With every state instituting California's standard, we could cut gasoline consumption by an estimated 11 billion gallons a year. That's billion...with a "B"

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