EPA Rejects California's Emissions Waiver Request

EPA denied California's request for a waiver that would have allowed it and 16 other states to establish stricter greenhouse gas emissions standards on cars and light trucks.

EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson said that the state's waiver was unnecessary because of an energy bill signed into law by President Bush. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (H.R. 6) will require automakers to reach an industry-wide average fuel efficiency for cars, SUVs and small trucks of 35 miles per gallon by 2020 (see "President Signs Energy Bill" for more information).

"The Bush administration is moving forward with a clear national solution -- not a confusing patchwork of state rules -- to reduce America's climate footprint from vehicles," Johnson said. "President Bush and Congress have set the bar high, and, when fully implemented, our federal fuel economy standard will achieve significant benefits by applying to all 50 states."

The announcement prompted an immediate vow from California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to take the decision to court.

"While the federal energy bill is a good step toward reducing dependence on foreign oil, the president's approval of it does not constitute grounds for denying our waiver. The energy bill does not reflect a vision, beyond 2020, to address climate change, while California's vehicle greenhouse gas standards are part of a carefully designed, comprehensive program to fight climate change through 2050," Schwarzenegger said.

In 2002, California passed legislation (AB 1493) to require a 30-percent reduction in global warming emissions from vehicles by 2016, starting with model year 2009. Sixteen other states -- Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont and Washington -- have adopted, or are in the process of adopting California's emissions standards.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers praised the agency's decision. "We commend EPA for protecting a national, 50-state program," said David McCurdy, president of the alliance. "Enhancing energy security and improving fuel economy are priorities to all automakers, but a patchwork quilt of inconsistent and competing fuel economy programs at the state level would only have created confusion, inefficiency and uncertainty for automakers and consumers."

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