The EPA just sent out an email advisory saying that Administrator Stephen Johnson will announce the agency’s decision on the California air standards waiver … in about 30 minutes. (Background on the waiver issue here, here, and here.)

The lack of lead time might lead one to believe that they want to bury this news. Which might lead one to believe that they’re going to deny California the waiver. Boxer and Waxman have both said they expect that outcome.

That would prompt an all-out war from Schwarzenegger.

Updates soon.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

UPDATE: Johnson speaking now. “National problem,” “Bush signed the energy bill,” “unified approach” … oh yeah, he’s going to deny it.

Yup. He’s denying it.

UPDATE: “President Bush and Congress have set the bar high.” Barf. “… clear, national solution, not a confusing patchwork …” Puke.

Grist relies on the support of generous readers like you. Donate today to keep our climate news free. All donations matched!

UPDATE: Now we’re in the Q&A:

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

“Is EPA going to set out any standards for CO2?”

Johnson: “Blah, blah … historic new standard … blah, blah …” Dodging the question. Reviewing, determining possible future steps, blah blah.

“Would the EPA have approved the waiver if Congress hadn’t passed this CAFE boost?”

Johnson: “Blah, blah … nature of global climate change … global … clear national solution … under Clean Air Act, didn’t meet compelling and extraordinary conditions …” So in other words, he would have denied the waiver regardless.

“What, legally, is your rationale for denying, for the first time in history, a waiver for a state seeking more aggressive action?”

Johnson: This isn’t like prior waivers. This is global in nature. Global, global, blah blah. Unlike pollutants covered by other waivers, greenhouse gas pollutants everyone. California is not exclusive. Didn’t meet “compelling and extraordinary” conditions.

“Could you clarify your estimate on what the Calif. standard would require, mpg wise?”

Johnson: 33mpg by 2016.

“How did the professional staff advise you?”

Johnson: I literally had hours upon hours of briefings and discussion. (Wow!) My staff provided me a “range of options,” with lots of “pros and cons,” and “based upon their input and what the Clean Air Act” describes, I denied the waiver.

“People in Calif. say their standard is more stringent than the new federal standard.”

Johnson: “compelling and extraordinary conditions” … “global climate change” … blah blah. New federal standard will deliver substantial reductions. Repeats that Calif’s standards are 33mpg (which strikes me as highly contentious). “Clear national solution to clear global problem … better approach.”

“Any consideration given to a partial waiver, given that car companies said they could meet the standards soon? And what should other states do, who want to protect themselves from global warming?”

Johnson: I considered the option, yes. (Well, that was blunt.) As to what states can do, well, now we have a national standard, so deliver the national standard. Implement today’s law. (Is the implication here seriously that states who meet this modest CAFE boost are thereby protected against climate change?)

“To what extent do you think today’s energy bill addresses the issue of regulating greenhouse gas emissions?”

Johnson: Certainly, for motor vehicles, it’s comprehensive. There’s two ways to address vehicles: fuel economy standard and alternative fuels. Today, we got both! (Again dodging question. … and still … wow … obviously dodging this question.)

“We’ve got 17 states, with roughly half the nation’s population, ready to go. What are you going to do on a national level to fight global warming?”

Johnson: Today’s legislation achieves greatest greenhouse gas reductions in history of the U.S. It implements what we were preparing to do from a regulation perspective. (So, that’s it — the EPA’s job is done, according to Johnson.)

“Boxer has said she’ll work to overturn this legislatively. Comment on that?”

Johnson: I made my decision under the Clean Air Act. Global problem … clear national solution … clear path forward … blah blah …

“What percentage GHG reductions will we see by 2016?”

Johnson: I don’t know.

“Well, how much we talking about? You said it was a lot.”

Johnson: We’ll get back to you.

“CEOs of Ford and Chrysler met with the VP last month. Did anyone from the White House talk to you about this decision?”

Johnson: It was independent. (Questioner gets cut off.)

“What is the harm in approving the waiver?”

Johnson: It didn’t meet the statutory requirements under CAA 209. From a policy perspective, the national policy is better than a partial state-by-state approach. This applies to all 50 states. (Who cares what you think about policy, Johnson? The Supreme Court told you to regulate. Oy.)