Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) denied a waiver of Clean Air Act Preemption for California’s greenhouse gas emission standards. EPA administrator Stephen Johnson signed the 48-page Federal Register Notice claiming that California does not have “compelling and extraordinary conditions” justified to set stricter standards than federal law allows under The Clean Air Act. Just yesterday, Representatives Peter Welch (D-VT) and Brad Sherman (D-CA) introduced legislation to overturn the denial and allow states to implement costly regulations to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

Clear and compelling evidence is necessary for EPA to grant a waiver; without a standard of proof, states could implement costly climate change legislation that may have only marginal benefits. The EPA was correct in denying California a waiver and should be recognized for not announcing any new regulations on carbon dioxide. The energy bill recently signed into law is bad enough energy policy.

In December, President Bush signed the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007. The proposed fuel economy standards and renewable fuels mandates will have the cost of energy rising for years to come. As The Heritage Foundation’s Ben Lieberman asserts:

Washington’s past energy bills have never been good news for the American people. But the latest one may be the most anti-consumer one ever.”

Allowing for state-based regulation will exacerbate the problem. State-based regulation could lead to a slippery slope of regulatory burdens under the Clean Air Act. Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Marlo Lewis points out that if EPA grants California and other states permission to set stricter vehicle standards, then carbon dioxide is “subject to regulation” under the Clean Air Act’s Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD). If this occurs, a number of burdensome, costly regulations could be put in place to regulate carbon dioxide. There is no justifiable reason to take immediate action, and the EPA should avoid regulating carbon dioxide emissions until more conclusive evidence is found.