After more than two months, the Bush administration today finally articulated its legal case for rejecting California’s greenhouse-gas standards for motor vehicles. The argument is here.

It reads like something written up in the boardroom of General Motors or a law firm working for car companies. It even cites arguments made by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers as justification for the decision!

It’s a phony argument designed to protect the auto industry — and it’s typical of the Bush administration to dump out bad news like this on a Friday to minimize media coverage.

Johnson contends that California’s problem with global warming is not “compelling and extraordinary.” Clearly, Johnson hasn’t spent much time in California. Doesn’t he know the simple scientific fact that hotter air causes more smog?

His claim stands in sharp contrast with the conclusion of the EPA’s own technical experts, who found that California had identified significant environmental and public health issues in their request, and addressed particular effects on California — noting the effect of climate change on several conditions, such as snow melt, agriculture, coastal erosion, and ozone. Remember — California doesn’t have to argue that its problem is “unique,” only that it is compelling. The law requires opponents (i.e., the car companies that Johnson cites) to prove that California is wrong.

The argument here draws a distinction between “local” or “regional” pollutants and “global” pollutants, and argues, basically, that reducing greenhouse gases in California won’t affect overall levels all that much.

This is a reprise of an argument that the Bush administration made before the Supreme Court in the Massachusetts v. EPA case. The Supreme Court rejected the Bush argument then. Courts will reject this phony argument also.