Category Archives: EPA

Grading the Obama administration: Regulatory issues

OMBWatch is a great tool for groups and individuals interested in tracking how our government applies the laws passed by congress to protect the public, with regards to transparency and accountability. This new, three part report (pdf) entitled The Obama Approach to Public Protection: Enforcement, delves into how the Obama Administration creates and administers rules and regulations that protect the public with regard to health, safety and environmental issues and standards. From OMBWatch’s introduction to part one of their report:

This is the first of three OMB Watch reports evaluating the Obama administration’s record on regulatory issues. This report covers health, safety, and environmental rulemaking at federal agencies during the Obama administration from January 2009 through August 2010. The second report will cover many of the same issues and areas as this report but will focus on regulatory enforcement. The third report will focus on the regulatory process, including issues of transparency, participation, regulatory analysis, and scientific integrity, and will more deeply examine the role of the White House, specifically the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in shaping the administration’s record.

Part one is roughly 34 pages long. From part one, a short assessment of their findings:

Based on the research presented here, several trends emerge. First, in stark contrast to the George W. Bush administration, the Obama administration has taken its role of protecting the public seriously and has been far more active in pursuing its rulemaking responsibilities. Obama’s philosophy regarding the role of government is very different from the Bush philosophy. This contrast emerged early in Obama’s tenure as agencies spent considerable time and energy addressing many of the “midnight regulations” the Bush administration enacted or finalized, most of which rolled back essential environmental, public health, and workplace safety standards. While not wholly successful, the Obama administration deserves credit for looking both forward and backward.

Second, the new administration has begun to restore agency resources, recommit leadership to agency missions, and address the toll of neglect from previous administrations. Rebuilding the regulatory agencies, their staffs, and their programs will, however, take years and consistent resources.

Third, in comparison to expectations, the Obama administration has fallen short. The administration has not changed the dysfunctional regulatory process that agencies must navigate. The rulemaking process is full of procedural hurdles that hinder how quickly and, sometimes, how effectively agencies can respond to public needs. The process is tilted heavily in favor of special interests that have the resources and access to impact the substance of rules; the public’s voice is often drowned out.

 I will give Obama and his minions this: The Obama administration has made a valiant effort to undo much of the fuckery foisted upon us by Chimpy’s administration, including all the Midnight reg’s issued in the waning days of that friggin nightmare of an administration that were designed to weaken enforcement and protection of the public.It’s a long, tedious process and ProPublica keeps track of all of them here.

The watchdog group, OMBWatch, was created in 1983. The group has championed many issues, including the batshit crazy rightwingers ongoing attempts to defund and close down many of our federal governments regulatory agencies. In 2008 they created, a searchable database of federal contracts, grants, and loans dating back to FY 2000.

OMBWatch does all this work as a non-profit agency. Any donations to their work are tax deductible.

The Obama administration and vehicle emission standards.

I am quite proud of the fact that California leads the nation in stringent laws regarding vehicle emissions. Of course we have the worst air of any state in our nation. When BushCo tried to blow off Cali’s newest set of regulations in 2007, Cali and 12 other states took it to the courts and won the right to set their own vehicle emissions standards. The EPA had always, prior to BushCo, allowed us to set our own standards, much to the chagrin of the auto manufacturing industry. The industry has a long history of fighting any changes to vehicle emission and fuel standard policies within the state of California.

Then Obama came into the oval office and immediately changed the EPA rules to make it easier for states to set their own emission levels and fuel-efficiency standards.

Yesterday, he announced a national change to ‘the rules’. From a news account of the announcement:

The standards, which still require final approval from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department, would force carmakers to reduce carbon dioxide and other emissions in new cars and trucks by 30 percent and build vehicles that average 35.5 miles per gallon.

The changes would take effect in 2012 and would be fully implemented by 2016.

The length of time to get this ball rolling bothers me, but it is what it is..a start in the right direction. The changes will also jack up the cost of new vehicles by as much as $1300 but it will save 1.8 billion barrels of oil from being used by Americans according to administration officials. The changes will also lead to a 30% reduction in carbon dioxide and other emissions by 2016.

An LA Times writeup on the automakers acceptance of these changes is interesting in that it points out how hard Obama had to wrangle and fight the auto industry to go along with his plan. I feel fairly confident that part of the reason they accepted it is because of the bailout money handed over to two of the Big Three american automakers. In the end, 10 automakers accepted the changes.

Salon has a piece up about the changes and what they entail. It’s also a small historical perspective on the electric car and how the auto industry has fucked us on this front time and time again. A small blurb:

The buzz is intoxicating. Yet for 100 years the electric car has shimmered on the horizon, like a mirage, always fleetingly out of reach. Today, even with advances in battery technology, as the major automakers unveil their forthcoming models, they’re still hedging their bets that the internal combustion engine’s glory days aren’t over.

“The technology is always down the road; the better battery is always in the future,” says Michael Schiffer, an anthropology professor at the University of Arizona, and author of “Taking Charge: The Electric Automobile in America.” “People have been promising better batteries for over a century.” Indeed, in 1909, a magazine advertisement for Baker Electric Vehicles touted the revolutionary new cars as “the Aristocrats of Motordom,” which would go “100 Miles on One Charge of the Batteries.” A century later, in 2009, the Mini Cooper’s electric cousin the Mini E, now being leased in a pilot program to 450 drivers in New York, New Jersey and California, promises to go — you guessed it! — over 100 miles.

The auto industry will not go willingly into the future, take it to the bank. They might of all been standing with Obama smiling like the cat that ate the canary..but believe me..they are pissed.

But you know what? Fuck the Auto Industry. Fuck em hard. GM had a great little electric car called the EV-1. They crushed every single one of those cars into oblivion. Folks that owned an EV-1 and who now drive a Prius say the Prius is a step backward when compared to the EV-1. From the Salon article:

“It’s great to see a lot of electric cars are in the works now, but it’s hard to get excited about the Volt because G.M. had a great electric car, and they didn’t stand by it, they didn’t promote it,” says Spertus. “Why should I expect them to do anything different?” After G.M. took Spertus’ EV1 away, it charged her several thousand dollars for dents in it, despite the fact it was headed to the great auto-body shop in the sky.

Today Spertus, who is now working at Google, while taking a leave from Mills, drives a Toyota Prius, which she calls a “real step backward” from the EV1, since it’s only partially electric. “An American car company had a fantastic lead and threw it away,” she says.

That’s not only the view of one disgruntled car driver. Rick Wagoner, former CEO of G.M., fired by Obama in March, has said that his worst decision as CEO was “axing the EV1 electric-car program and not putting the right resources into hybrids.” Says Kirsch: “They should have taken the EV1 and turned it into the Volt 10 years ago. It’s 10 years late and $10 billion short.”

So I am happy but also not completely sold on the auto industry going along with all this ‘change’. They still have their lawsuit in the courts against Cali’s vehicle standards. They have refused to kill that suit up until now. Ford has said recently that the Obama Plan will kill them. From the LAT article:

A senior Ford executive said the company had run the numbers again and concluded it might not survive if it accepted the deal. If Ford pulled out, it would mean a major setback for two of President Obama’s signature goals — combating global warming and reducing the nation’s appetite for foreign oil.


Yet the near-collapse of the effort was a dramatic reminder of how hard it can be to break through years of stalemate and build a consensus for action on a problem that has pitted some of the country’s most powerful interests against each other.

So you will forgive me if my happiness is tempered by the knowledge that the automakers are always full of shit and always looking out for their bottom line. I know that somewhere down the road they will balk at some if not all of these changes. History bears this out. Just look at what GM did to the EV-1 and how hard people fought to keep those great little electric cars…all to no the people lost that fight.

I just hope we don’t lose this time. I want cleaner air and better mileage. I am willing to pay for those things even though I am on a fixed income. I hope everyone gets onboard with this.

But the pessimist in me says-Don’t get excited yet woman..there is plenty of time for this to plan to fail. 2016 is way down the friggin road..way down.

Crossposted at my group rant home, Sirens Chronicles.

Dems think EPA Administrator is a tool.

From the WSJ:

Democratic senators on Tuesday asked the Justice Department to investigate whether the nation’s top environmental regulator made false statements to Congress when he testified that his 2007 decision to block California rules governing automobile greenhouse-gas emissions was made independently.

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.) and two other lawmakers also called on EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson to resign. The calls bring to a head a building battle over whether the White House interfered in environmental policy making, including in the California rules.

Anyone with two brain cells to rub together know that Bush’s EPA has done nothing that will better the cause of clean air, clean water or just healthier human beings. Its all been political.

By rejecting California’s request for a waiver under the Clean Air Act — the first time the agency has ever refused to grant such a waiver — the EPA administrator effectively blocked any state from regulating vehicle greenhouse-gas emissions.

Earlier this year, Mr. Johnson told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that “this was solely my decision based upon the law, based upon the facts that were presented to me.” But a former EPA official told the committee that the EPA chief had planned to allow California’s rules to take hold in some form, but changed his mind amid pressure from the White House.

Fucking liar. Fucking corporate pig.

Oh hell yeah….

The firing of the USA Attorneys was the downfall of Alberto Gonzo Gonzales Now, the asshole that heads the EPA is looking the fool with the dismissal of Mary Gade, regional administrator of U.S. EPA Region 5 which is based in Chi-town. This woman has been fighting Dow Chemical for years m’dear reader..and she gets kicked to the curb by the Head of the EPA, that wonderful individual named EPA administrator Stephen Johnson. Johnson is a prick of mythic proportions:

Gade told the Tribune she resigned after two aides to national EPA administrator Stephen Johnson took away her powers as regional administrator and told her to quit or be fired by June 1.

You son of a bitch. Can you actually be so stupid as to think no one will notice this bullshittery? Are you that fucking retarded?

Gade has taken on Dow forevah! She has fought the good fight against one of the the major top five polluters and murderous thugs in the world. And this is how the Bush Administration rewards her. Ass-friggin-holes. Remember Bhopal people…

California sues over emissions ruling by EPA

Let’s see..the EPA, before Bush, never refused to allow Cali to have stricter air standards. Suddenly BushCo says no way, no how..

So today Cali filed the lawsuit and the 15 states also affected by the BushCo bullshit ruling by the EPA signed on too.

Praise Jeebus!

From the LAT writeup:

The lawsuit, filed in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, challenges the Environmental Protection Agency’s Dec. 19 decision to deny California a waiver to pass its own tailpipe rules, which is permitted under the 1970 Clean Air Act. When it comes to air pollution, the act allows states to follow California rules or federal rules, so long as the federal government grants California a waiver.

50 waivers for stricter standards have been approved before BushCo..there is plenty of precedence…plenty. Besides we have the shittiest air in the U.S..

The 15 states joining California in today’s suit: Massachusetts, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

FindLaw has the court doc’s here.