EPA Pruitt casts shadow of doubt on Sunny California

Listen to John Batchelor radio show with Mary Kissel, Wall Street Journal, and Lou Ann Hammond talking about Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Pruitt versus California Air Resources Board (CARB)

Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, poked a stick in the middle of a hornet’s nest when he said he could not commit to keeping the current version of a federal waiver stipulation that has allowed California to set its emission standards.

The California Air Resources Board was quick to respond to EPA-elect Pruitt’s assertions, “Over the past 50 years, EPA has granted California more than 100 waiver determinations, and those determinations were issued under the administration of both parties. California’s unique ability to set and enforce its standards on mobile sources is critical for California to protect public health, and has benefited the nation.”

Why does California get to set stricter standards than anywhere else in the United States, and stricter than the Federal EPA?

California had to do something about its air. In 1967, under Governor Ronald Reagan California created the clean air act. Part of the duty of the California Air Resources Board (CARB) is to clean the air.

The Federal Air Quality Act of 1967 gave California the authority to write its own, stricter rules.

California Air Resources Board explained it to me, “The Mulford-Carrell Air Resources Act was signed into law by Governor Ronald Reagan in 1967. It created the California Air Resources Board by merging of the California Motor Vehicle Pollution Control Board and the Bureau of Air Sanitation and its Laboratory.

Federal Air Quality Act of 1967 was enacted same year. It established a framework for defining “air quality control regions” based on meteorological and topographical factors of air pollution. It allowed the State of California a waiver to set and enforce its emissions standards for new vehicles based on California’s unique need for more stringent controls. (Also because we already had air quality regulations for vehicles.)

The Federal EPA was not created till 1970. It was under the agreement of becoming part of the Federal EPA that California would be given waivers.

California is the only state permitted to issue emissions standards under the federal Clean Air Act, subject to a waiver from the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Other states may choose to follow CARB or federal standards but may not set their own.

There are sixteen states that would have followed Californias lead to implement the higher regulations. Those states were Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

Senator Pavley has already instituted SB32, a Senate Bill that amends the Assembly Bill 32 that will take combustion engines off the California highway by 2050 and replace them with zero to near-zero emission vehicles.

Pruitt can say he wants to curb California’s waivers, and it’s desire for clean air, but the car companies have already started spending billions of dollars to make ZEV vehicles. BMW’s President of North America, Ludwig Willisch, stated that he would appreciate a one-Nation standard, but conceded that California’s standards are closer to Europe’s reduction in carbon figures than the Federal EPA numbers regulations are.

Senator Kamala Harris made a point to Pruitt that of the Fourteen lawsuits he has filed over six years with the Environmental Protection Agency, seven have been settled, six of which Pruitt has lost. When asked Pruitt said that was a .300 batting average, Harris corrected him saying it was .142.

The division is apparent.

About the Author:

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year (NACTOY), Women's World Car of the Year (WWCOTY), and the Concept Car of the Year.