The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reinstated California’s authority to set its own motor vehicle pollution standards, the LA Times reported yesterday. You may remember the drama during the Trump administration when the EPA kind of lost its mind and said that California could not require higher fuel economy standards than the nation as a whole. That was a reversal of policy that had existed for decades as an add-on effect of the US passing the Clean Air Act.
Part of this drama included the then-head of the EPA, a former lobbyist for a coal company, Andrew Wheeler. Wheeler also rolled back the fuel economy standards that were put in place during the Obama administration. Granted, Trump just wanted to undo all of the good that Obama had achieved as a weird, macho, oranged-tinged one-up or whatever, but this went to another level — strongly meddling in long-standing state rights.
Under the Biden administration, the EPA seems to have gotten its priorities back in place and is again allowing California to set its own motor vehicle pollution standards at a stricter level than the federal government’s. This includes tighter restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions. EPA Administrator Michael Regan told the LA Times that this was a big deal for Californians as well as Americans more broadly — much more broadly. Here was Regan’s response:
“This is truly important. Not just for the people in California but for the nation as a whole. We are proudly reaffirming California’s long-standing authority to lead in this area.”
Of course, not everyone is happy — especially the 16 Republican state attorneys general who claimed that the special treatment of California was unconstitutional. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, who leads the House Energy and Commerce Committee, shared her complaints in the following statement: “President Biden’s strict auto emissions regulations are yet another example of this administration putting a radical rush-to-green regulatory regime ahead of restoring America’s energy dominance and leadership.”
Ah, yes … of course. /s
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