The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced June 30 that it has granted the State of California’s waiver request regarding standards for greenhouse gas emissions for new vehicles. The decision, announced by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, allows California to enforce its own standards for new vehicles, starting this year, which are stricter than federal standards.
The declaration has a wider impact in that 13 other states and the District of Columbia have decided to follow California's cleaner emissions standards, according to the EPA.
In 2005, under Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the California Air Resources Board sought a waiver of preemption from the EPA. The governor’s office said that California is the only state under the Federal Clean Air Act that can set standards beyond the federal government’s standards, so long as it obtains a waiver from the federal government. Other states can then choose to adopt California's cleaner standards, it explained.
Governor Schwarzenegger said, "After being asleep at the wheel for over two decades, the federal government has finally stepped up and granted California its nation-leading tailpipe emissions waiver. This decision is a huge step for our emerging green economy that will create thousands of new jobs and bring Californians the cars they want while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Thanks to the environmental commitment of President Obama and the continued leadership of state Senator Fran Pavley, California's long battle to reduce pollution from passenger vehicles is over, and a greener, cleaner future has finally arrived."
The EPA’s decision was made following scientific examination and public input. Jackson said the decision comports with the federal Clean Air Act, which allows the agency to grant California the authority to adopt its own emission standards for new vehicles in light of California’s significant air pollution. The EPA noted that it has a long-term history of granting waivers to California.
The EPA turned down California’s first waiver request. After President Obama took office in January, he directed the agency to review the request again. In May, President Obama announced a novel policy for raising fuel economy and reducing air pollution for future vehicles sold in the U.S.
Mobile Air Testing
This milestone follows an announcement that the Air Resources Board has developed two electric vehicles specially outfitted to measure greenhouse gas emissions in the field. Mobile testing units were developed by scientists to measures gases such as methane and particles at facilities such as dairies, landfills and wastewater treatment plants. The state did not pay for the vehicles, which were donated by a major auto company as part of a settlement agreement for emissions violations, according to a video by the Board.