20080229 car exhaust 18
Exhaust flows out of a car tailpipe. California's tougher emissions standards may have been struck down by the federal government, but the battle over more fuel-efficient cars may hinge on how high gas prices will go. - 


Kai Ryssdal: We all know global warming's a touchy political subject in Washington. I'm not sure we knew exactly how touchy, though,

It took the Environmental Protection Agency almost a thousand pages today to say it's not gonna decide what do to about greenhouse gas emissions even though the Supreme Court ruled last year the government does have the authority to impose new regulations.

From Washington, Marketplace's Nancy Marshall Genzer reports on what the EPA's gonna do instead.

Nancy Marshall Genzer: The Supreme Court ordered the EPA to use the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. The EPA did put forth some options for cutting emissions today, but the agency's administrator Stephen Johnson said the Clean Air Act wasn't the right tool for that and he said he wasn't going to rush into anything.

Johnson says the agency has decided to spend months hearing from the public on what he called "an unprecedented expansion of EPA authority."

Stephen Johnson: There can be profound consequences across all sectors of our economy and every individual living in their homes or where they work or driving cars.

But environmentalists say today's document dump was a stall tactic.

Frank O'Donnell: The Bush administration essentially is flipping the bird to the Supreme Court.

Frank O'Donnell is president of Clean Air Watch.

O'Donnell: The Bush administration essentially is telling the Supreme Court, "We're just going to study the issue a lot longer."

But Bill Kovacs of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce relishes the chance to comment on the EPA documents released today. He describes them as a roadmap to economic turmoil.

Bill Kovacs: Almost every aspect of the economy would be regulated. We're talking about literally, over time, trillions of dollars of new regulations.

But none of those proposed regulations will be put into effect before President Bush leaves office. The president's successor will have to decide what to do about regulating emissions.

In Washington, I'm Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.