EPA Says California Cannot Have Cleaner Air Than U.S.

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The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday denied California and 16 other states the right to set their own standards for carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles.

The E.P.A. administrator, Stephen L. Johnson, said the proposed California rules were pre-empted by federal authority and made moot by the energy bill signed into law by President Bush on Wednesday. Mr. Johnson said California had failed to make a compelling case that it needed authority to write its own standards for greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks to help curb global warming.

The decision immediately provoked a heated debate over its scientific basis and whether political pressure was applied by the automobile industry to help it escape the proposed California regulations. Officials from the states and numerous environmental groups vowed to sue to overturn the edict.

In an evening conference call with reporters, Mr. Johnson defended his agency’s decision.

“The Bush administration is moving forward with a clear national solution, not a confusing patchwork of state rules,” he said. “I believe this is a better approach than if individual states were to act alone.”

The 17 states — including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut — had waited two years for the Bush administration to issue a ruling on an application to set stricter air quality standards than those adopted by the federal government. The decision, technically known as a Clean Air Act waiver, was the first time California was refused permission to impose its own pollution rules; the federal government had previously granted the state more than 50 waivers.

The emissions standards California proposed in 2004 — but never approved by the federal government — would have forced automakers to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent in new cars and light trucks by 2016, with the cutbacks to begin in 2009 models.

That would have translated into roughly 43 miles per gallon for cars and some light trucks and about 27 miles per gallon for heavier trucks and sport utility vehicles.

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Posted by hmn on 2007-12-20 14:03:47
We all know that the Bush administration's strategy is to drag their heals as long as possible, making vague promises they don't intend to keep, while at the same time taking credit for whatever small-potatoes manages to get through congress. Much simpler than a patchwork solution that might actually allow the individual states to oversee and manage their own emissions.
 

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