In December, the Environmental Protection Agency rejected a waiver submitted by the state of California that would allow stricter emissions standards than those set by the EPA.
Now, California is suing the EPA for a reversal of the decision.
California has been the leader in emissions regulations since before the EPA was created. The state has been granted the waiver over 40 times, and this denial is the first one in 40 years.
According to Stanley Young, a spokesperson for the California Air Resources Board, if California were to be granted the waiver that was rejected in December, the state would work to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emissions, while the EPA’s focus is on fuel economy.
“[The EPA] wants to increase the number of miles per gallon,” Young said. “[California is] looking at grams of CO2 emitted per mile.”
Young says there is a common misconception that either of these two approaches to car pollution will result in the same beneficial outcome.
“This is a conceptual difference, a paradigm shift,” he said. “These are two completely different ways of looking at a car and one does not subsume the other.”
California is looking to reduce more than just tailpipe emissions. Young said work is being done to limit fuel tank emissions, the impact of air conditioning units and the use of “cool paint” on the interiors of cars in order to keep the temperature down using little to no energy.
All three of the presidential candidates have come out and said that they would grant California the waiver, Young added.
According to the Clean Air Act, California is allowed to set its own vehicle emissions standards as long as it obtains the waiver. The reasoning behind the EPA’s denial of the waiver is that the state must prove that it is in a unique situation and must be treated as a separate entity.
In December, Stephen Johnson, administrator of the EPA, wrote in a letter to Governor Schwarzenegger that “[The] EPA has considered and granted previous waivers to California for standards covering pollutants that predominantly affect local and regional air quality. In contrast, the current waiver request for greenhouse gases is far different; it presents numerous issues that are distinguishable from all prior waiver requests. Unlike other air pollutants covered by previous waivers, greenhouse gases are fundamentally global in nature.“
However, Young said California has the most polluted air in the nation.
Last week, Governor Schwarzenegger teamed up with Connecticut’s governor Jodi Rell to write an op-ed piece for The Washington Post.
“It’s bad enough that the federal government has yet to take the threat of global warming seriously, but it borders on malfeasance for it to block the efforts of states such as California and Connecticut that are trying to protect the public’s health and welfare,” Rell and Schwarzenegger wrote.
They continued the call for granted waivers in their article.
“California, Connecticut and 10 other states are poised to enact tailpipe emissions standards – tougher than existing federal requirements – that would cut greenhouse gas emissions from cars, light trucks and sport utility vehicles by 392 million metric tons by the year 2020, the equivalent to taking 74 million of today’s cars off the road for an entire year,” Rell and Schwarzenegger wrote.
For now, California must wait for the EPA’s decision to be reversed.
ALI EDNEY can be reached at email@example.com.