Obama's EPA grants previously declined emissions waiver

By John O'Brien | Jun 30, 2009


WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - The federal government granted Tuesday the State of California's request for a waiver that allows it to develop its own standards for greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles.

The State developed its own requirements years ago, but the Bush administration's Environmental Protection Agency would not grant the waiver, leading to several court fights. The Obama administration EPA recently announced its plan to implement California's standards nationwide.

"EPA's reversal tears down the last remaining barrier preventing California from enforcing its laws curbing greenhouse gases," California Attorney General Jerry Brown said.

"Today's decision stands in sharp contrast to the Bush EPA's politically driven denial two years ago."

For years, Brown and a group of attorneys general have been fighting automakers that argued the standards were preempted by EPA requirements.

"This is an historic agreement that will lead to a 30 percent reduction in motor vehicle greenhouse gas emissions nationwide," Brown said. "This agreement brings an end to a five-year legal battle. It means that automakers finally recognize that their future depends on making cleaner and more efficient vehicles."

Motor vehicles manufactured in the U.S. must reach a fleetwide standard of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016.

Fourteen other states had attempted to adopt California's standards during the Bush administration.

California can now request stronger emissions requirements in the future.

"Congress recognized that California could serve as a pioneer and a laboratory for the nation in setting new motor vehicle emission standards," EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson wrote.

"Congress intentionally structured this waiver provision to restrict and limit EPA's ability to deny a waiver, and did this to ensure that California had broad discretion in selecting the means it determined best to protect the health and welfare of its citizens."

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at john@legalnewsline.com.

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