EPA to Reconsider California Emissions Standards
More than three years after California attempted to enact stricter auto emissions standards, only to see them rejected by the Environmental Protection Agency under the Bush administration, new EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson pledged this morning to reconsider the state’s request.
Under the Clean Air Act, California must receive a waiver from the EPA in order to impose emissions controls. The state submitted a waiver request in December 2005, but after a delay of more than two years, then-EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson rejected the request in March 2008. Upon taking office, President Obama asked the EPA to revisit the matter.
From Jackson’s signed statement this morning:
EPA believes that there are significant issues regarding the Agency’s denial of the waiver. The denial was a substantial departure from EPA’s longstanding interpretation of the Clean Air Act’s waiver provisions and the history of granting waivers to California for its new motor vehicle emission program.
If, as expected, the EPA grants the waiver, it could lead to tighter emissions controls not only in California, but also in 13 other states that hope to adopt California’s standards.
Stricter emissions measures have faced strong opposition from the auto industry, even though Ford and General Motors agreed to equally tough standards during the debate over the federal bailout of the Big Three automakers in December. Nonetheless, these companies are likely to be the most vocal opponents of the waiver.