EPA Revisits California Waiver Decision

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will reconsider its decision denying California permission to set standards controlling greenhouse gases from motor vehicles, according to a Feb. 6 press release.

California made the waiver request on Dec. 21, 2005, to allow the state the right to control greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles. Then-EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson denied the request on March 6, 2008.

On Jan. 26, shortly after taking office, President Barack Obama requested that EPA revisit the matter of the denial.

“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.”

The Clean Air Act gives EPA the authority to allow California to adopt its own emission standards for motor vehicles due to the seriousness of the state’s air pollution challenges. There is a long-standing history of EPA granting waivers to the state of California.

The agency believes that there are significant issues regarding the denial of the waiver. The denial was a substantial departure from EPA’s longstanding interpretation of the Clean Air Act’s waiver provisions. 

Oon Jan. 21, 2009, EPA received a letter from California outlining several issues for Jackson to review and reconsider about the previous denial of the waiver. Many other states are interested in adopting California’s standards. Stakeholders and the public have expressed concerns.

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

For more information, go to http://www.epa.gov/otaq/climate/ca-waiver.htm.

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