EPA denies California bid to reduce auto emissions
WASHINGTON (AP) ” The Environmental Protection Agency today slapped down California’s bid for first-in-the-nation greenhouse gas limits on cars, trucks and SUVs, denying a request for a waiver that would have allowed those restrictions to take effect.
“The Bush administration is moving forward with a clear national solution ” not a confusing patchwork of state rules,” EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson told reporters on a conference call. “I believe this is a better approach than if individual states were to act alone.”
The long-awaited decision amounted to a serious setback for California and 16 other states seeking the new car regulations to achieve their anti-global warming goals.
At issue were tailpipe standards California adopted in 2004 that would have forced automakers to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent in new cars and light trucks by 2016, with the cutbacks beginning in the 2009 model year.
The state needed a federal waiver to implement the rules.
Twelve other states ” Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington ” have adopted the California emissions standards, and the governors of Arizona, Colorado, Florida and Utah have said they also plan to adopt them.
With the denial, those other states are also prevented from moving forward.
In explaining his decision, Johnson cited energy legislation approved by Congress and signed into law Wednesday by President Bush. The law requires automakers to achieve an industrywide average fuel efficiency for cars, SUVs and small trucks of 35 miles per gallon by 2020 ” the first increase in the federal requirement in 32 years.
That law “achieves the greatest greenhouse reductions in the history of the United States,” Johnson said, and is preferable to a state-by-state approach.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and other officials in the state denounced the decision, and the governor’s office said the state will appeal it.
“Gov. Schwarzenegger is extremely disappointed in today’s decision by the EPA and will continue to press for action. He is committed to getting this done for California with or without the support of the administration,” said spokesman Adam Mendelsohn.
The decision was further confirmation of the Bush administration’s adamant opposition to mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions, even after a string of court decisions affirming the right of states and the federal government to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
It was the first time the EPA had fully denied California a Clean Air Act waiver since Congress gave California the right to obtain such waivers in 1967.