Trump targets California’s unique role in shaping air pollution rules

The Trump administration is on the brink of what could prove its most consequential legal battle with the state of California, with EPA chief Scott Pruitt expected this week to take aim at the autonomy that state leaders were given in the 1970 Clean Air Act to establish pollution standards for vehicles that are more far-reaching than the federal government’s. This autonomy is widely credited with the Golden State’s emergence as a world leader in environmental regulation.

Last week saw confirmation of months of White House and EPA leaks that President Donald Trump would throw out a 2012 Obama administration edict that required average miles per gallon to nearly double to 54.5 for automakers’ fleets of new cars and trucks by 2025. Trump’s skepticism about climate change made him particularly open to the argument from General Motors, Ford and Chrysler that out-of-touch regulators under the previous president were trying to force them to sell vehicles that U.S. consumers didn’t want to buy.

But as The New York Times reported over the weekend, Trump and Pruitt went further than automakers wanted both by rolling back mileage standards more than expected and by signalling their readiness for a court fight over the deference that federal regulators have traditionally shown to the California Air Resources Board.

The Golden State’s problems with smog in the Los Angeles Basin – visible in the 1973 EPA photo shown above – led to the first state law in the U.S. targeting air pollution being adopted in 1947, among many other precedent-setting regulations. The air board continued California’s role as a pioneer in setting vehicle emission standards after it was launched in 1968 under then-Gov. Ronald Reagan. Its vehicle emission and safety rules often end up being copied by Congress and federal regulators and by nations around the world. The state’s present rules are followed by 12 other states, including New York and Pennsylvania – meaning the Golden State dictates what automakers must provide in about one-third of all new cars sold in the U.S. each year.

California’s special status may be only state carve-out in federal law

But with California’s pollution problems beginning to look more like the rest of the nation’s in recent decades, Republicans have increasingly chafed at the idea that CARB and not the EPA should have the dominant policy-making role on vehicle fuel and emissions standards.

An analysis in The Atlantic laid out how unusual the state’s status is:

“California is written into the Clean Air Act by name: At any time, it can ask the EPA administrator for a waiver to restrict tailpipe pollution more stringently than the federal government. If its proposed rules are ‘at least as protective of public health and welfare’ as the EPA’s, then the administrator must grant the waiver.

“This power is reserved alone for California, and it only covers pollution from cars. No other state can ask for a waiver. (In all of federal law, this might be the only time that a specific state is given special authority under such a major statute.)”

The administration of President George W. Bush became the first to challenge California’s special status when it rejected the state’s request to expand its definition of what substances in the atmosphere it could regulate to include non-polluting greenhouse gases. That prompted the filing of a lawsuit in January 2008 by then-Attorney General Jerry Brown that was backed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. But it became moot after Barack Obama succeeded Bush in the White House and the EPA resumed treating California’s proposals with deference.

Over the past 14 months, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has filed 28 lawsuits against the Trump administration, according to a tally kept by the Washington Post. But even before Becerra began his litigation, Gov. Brown anticipated the upcoming CARB-EPA fight and emphasized its importance. In comments made in December 2016 – a month after Trump’s election – Brown framed the dispute as having consequences for the “survivability of our world” because of the threat posed by global warming.

At an American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco, according to a Sacramento Bee account, the governor said, “We’ve got the scientists, we’ve got the lawyers and we’re ready to fight. We’re ready to defend. …. And, if Trump turns off the satellites, California will launch its own damn satellite. We’re going to collect that data.”

8 comments

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  1. Bogiewheel
    Bogiewheel 2 April, 2018, 13:12

    Would have been more honest to insert an image without an
    overlay. I opened it in Photoshop and it was “unflattened”
    The standard monochrome appears to look like a normal
    overcast day in San Francisco.

    Reply this comment
  2. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 2 April, 2018, 16:20

    These members of the Stupid Jackass Party(Democrats)want to abolish the gasoline engines all over this Global Warming/Climate Change hoax I mean their stupider then a sack full of hammers

    Reply this comment
  3. Sean
    Sean 2 April, 2018, 20:19

    CO2 is a global issue if you believe consensus climate science. Ozone is a local pollution problem and only 6 of California’s 58 counties are expected to comply with the 2015 EPA Ozone rule. How ironic that the California exemption letting them set dubious greenhouse gas standards is based on failure to control real pollution.

    Reply this comment
  4. Hermit of Livry
    Hermit of Livry 3 April, 2018, 08:45

    Isaiah 24:4-6
    “The earth mourneth and fadeth away, the world languisheth and fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish. The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.”

    The Bible declares that “climate change” occurs because the earths inhabitants have transgressed the laws of nature, changed the ordinance of marriage, and broken God’s law, the everlasting covenant. Therefore the curse is devouring the earth. Not because the common people are driving cars and running businesses. A case in point:

    THE LAW OF NATURE – Genesis 1:27. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
    Mark 10:6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.
    Genesis 1:28. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

    TRANSGRESSING THE LAWS OF NATURE – The Consenting Adult Sex Bill (Assembly Bill 489) is a consenting adult law, passed in California in 1975 and effective in January 1976, that repealed the sodomy law in California so that it applied only in criminal situations and made gay sex legal for the first time.[1] George Moscone, an early proponent of gay rights, in conjunction with his friend and ally in the Assembly, Willie Brown, managed to get the bill passed, 21-20, repealing the existing Californian laws against sodomy. The amendment was signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown.

    CHANGING THE ORDINANCE – Proposition 8 Section I. Title. This measure shall be known and may be cited as the “California Marriage Protection Act”. Section 2. Article I. Section 7.5 is added to the California Constitution, to read: Sec. 7.5. Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.

    When Gov. Jerry Brown decided he wouldn’t defend California’s ban same-sex marriage in court, he was following in the footsteps of his father, former Gov. Pat Brown. Jerry Brown, the state’s attorney general–filed papers on Friday asking the state Supreme Court to overturn Proposition 8, which amends the state’s Constitution to define marriage as only between a man and a woman.

    One nagging question from the federal court battle over California’s Proposition 8, the traditional marriage law: Why was the task of defending Proposition 8 left to a group of private attorneys, instead of Attorney General Jerry Brown?
    The answer: Because Mr. Brown refused to defend Proposition 8, even though part of the attorney general’s traditional job description is to defend state law from legal challenges — including laws with which they disagree.

    BROKEN THE EVERLASTING COVENANT – Exodus 34:28. And he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.
    Exodus 20:14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.

    Leviticus 18:22. Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.

    FIRE – Jude 1:7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

    Reply this comment
  5. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 5 April, 2018, 15:38

    Just like with DDT and CFC’s they used lies and junk science to bad products that were not as hazerdous as was claimed and with the silicone Breast Implants just made wealthy trial lawyers even more wealthy

    Reply this comment
  6. eck
    eck 6 April, 2018, 20:19

    This is all about CO2. CO2 has NOTHING to do with smog!! It is NOT a pollutant! Wake up folks. It’s all bogus.

    Reply this comment
  7. Teddy Baby MD
    Teddy Baby MD 8 April, 2018, 17:18

    Trump is a joke.

    Reply this comment

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Chris Reed

Chris Reed

Chris Reed is a regular contributor to Cal Watchdog. Reed is an editorial writer for U-T San Diego. Before joining the U-T in July 2005, he was the opinion-page columns editor and wrote the featured weekly Unspin column for The Orange County Register. Reed was on the national board of the Association of Opinion Page Editors from 2003-2005. From 2000 to 2005, Reed made more than 100 appearances as a featured news analyst on Los Angeles-area National Public Radio affiliate KPCC-FM. From 1990 to 1998, Reed was an editor, metro columnist and film critic at the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin in Ontario. Reed has a political science degree from the University of Hawaii (Hilo campus), where he edited the student newspaper, the Vulcan News, his senior year. He is on Twitter: @chrisreed99.

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