This is the first time the federal government has said it's ready to use the Clean Air Act to regulate climate changing pollution.
We get our cars smogged and there are regulations about the level of soot that industries can put into the atmosphere. However, up until now, the federal government has not regulated /*greenhouse gas*/ emissions that are a leading cause of global warming. Friday's finding is the first step towards setting limits on carbon dioxide and five other gasses.
"This is a key move by the EPA under President Obama. Under Bush they would never make this determination," said California Attorney General Jerry Brown.
Attorney General Brown joined a chorus of Bay Area politicians praising the /*EPA*/'s decision. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D) said the EPA has restored science-based decision making. Senator Barbara Boxer (D) called it long overdue. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) welcomed the finding saying she's committed to moving clean energy legislation this year.
At the /*Port of Oakland*/, port officials and shipping interests unveiled a new air quality improvement plan, that they say has been in the making for two years.
"And what we're for here today is to talk about a $650 million plan for a healthier community," said Marilyn Sandifur from the Port of Oakland.
But the $650 million isn't money the port is spending. It's the amount of money the California Air Resources Board thinks it will take to clean up the port's share of air pollution in West Oakland.
"This plan is bold and it is grass roots," said Ellen Johnck with the Bay Planning Coalition.
Supporters of the plan stress the money to pay for cleaning up the air will have to be shared by some from the port and some from those doing business here. Brian Beveridge has been a community co-chair on the port's plan as a director of a West Oakland environmental group.
"Ultimately it's a fine aspirational document, it's a good vision statement, but it doesn't say what we'll do, when we'll do it, how much that'll cost, or where we'll get the money," said Beveridge.
In other words the plan has no teeth says Beverage. That is a complaint echoed by the /*Bay Area Air Quality Management District*/, the state Air Resources Board and the federal EPA.
Independent truckers like Wilson Breenyah are worried they will be ordered to clean up with expensive retrofits or new trucks.
"It's all about money, so where are the truckers going to get this money to spend?" said Breenyah.
Breenyah says he can't raise his prices in this down economy or he'll lose business. The port says the same about instituting a container fee, which is part of the reason lawmakers who are hailing Friday's decision by the EPA are also saying that legislation, not regulation, is the way to go. However legislatures say the EPA's decision is a great motivator to get that legislation going.