E.P.A. Denies California's Emissions Waiver


Just after the Bush Administration signed an auto fuel efficiency bill, they denied a request for a waiver by California to tighten their own emission standards.

The Bush administration said Wednesday night that it would deny California’s bid to set stricter vehicle emissions standards than federal law required as part of the state’s efforts to fight climate change.

The E.P.A’s decision was a victory for the American auto companies, and came just hours after President Bush signed legislation that will raise fuel economy standards by 40 percent to 35 miles a gallon in 2020.

Had the E.P.A. agreed to the waiver, California and other states would have enacted rules requiring the auto companies to achieve a 30 percent reduction of emissions by cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles by 2016. The rules were set to begin taking effect with 2009 model year vehicles, some of which go on sale as soon as next month. Link.

California's effort to adopt the new emission standards was halted by the E.P.A.'s refusal to grant a waiver for the last two years. Twelve states, California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, then sued the E.P.A. to demand they make a decision on the waiver.

That is the decision that came down tonight -- just after Bush signed an auto fuel economy bill that he praised as a step toward energy independence....

“This decision is like pulling over the fire trucks on their way to the blaze,” said Fred Krupp, president of Environmental Defense. Krupp has sent out a general e-mail asking everyone to send an email to EPA administrator Stephen Johnson to condemn the decision.

With the twelve states involved and the
governors of Arizona, Colorado, Florida and Utah saying they intend to follow California's standards, as well, the next step would be for the states to sue the E.P.A. Given the prior court decisions over the past two years in the effort to get the E.P.A. to make a decision on a waiver, which resulted in rulings in the states' favor, it is likely the E.P.A.'s position will not hold up. However, the amount of time involved for such a court process will likely have the same result the E.P.A. is trying for: to delay the implementation of standards as long as possible in support of auto makers.