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States’ right to set greenhouse gas limits must be preserved


Several Senators are working to secure deals in the soon to be announced climate bill led by Senators Kerry, Lieberman and Graham.  Although the draft has not yet been made public, Public Citizen is critical of the underlying concept of this bill.

Fourteen Senate Democrats sent a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid asking for key provisions including free permits to the electric power sector, and preemption of states’ authority to set greenhouse gas emissions standards.

State authority is crucial to maintaining pressure on federal agencies to keep making progress in cutting emissions.  Without the leadership of California, the new fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards finalized on April 1 would not have been possible.

The road to protecting the climate will not be through giveaways to fossil fuel and nuclear interests, but through tough reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The Clean Air Act provides a framework for making these reductions. And the Obama administration’s EPA has taken steps to protect the climate under existing authority.

We need to make use of all the tools we have at our disposal to prevent the worst consequences of climate change.  In order to ensure that a federal program has accountability, the rights of states to issue stricter standards that are deemed appropriate must be preserved.

Lena Pons is a transportation policy analyst at Public Citizen.

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