February 6, 2009

EPA Revisits California’s Car Emissions Waiver

The US Environmental Protection Agency on Friday said it would reconsider its March 2008 decision to deny the state of California permission to set its own green standards for emissions.

In December 2005, California requested the right to control its greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles.

Then-EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson denied the state's request on March 6, 2008.

In his campaign bid last year, President Obama suggested that he supported the state's right to set its own standards.

On January 26, 2009, President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum directing EPA to assess whether denial of the waiver based on California's application was appropriate in light of the Clear Air Act.

"EPA has now set in motion an impartial review of the California waiver decision," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "It is imperative that we get this decision right, and base it on the best available science and a thorough understanding of the law."

If approved, 15 other states are likely to follow suit.

The Clean Air Act allows California to set tighter air-pollution standards for motor vehicles than the federal government's. But the EPA must approve a waiver in order for California's new standards to take effect.

The EPA said it will take public comment concerning the reconsideration of the waiver for a period of 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. There will also be a public hearing to be held in March in Washington, D.C.

Automakers argue against California's hopes to cut emissions by 30 percent by 2016. Manufacturers prefer a single fuel efficiency regulation approved by Congress and administered by the Transportation Department that is based on vehicle criteria -- not emissions.


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