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Obama to let states restrict emissions standards

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

Under the Bush Administration, the EPA refused to allow states to restrict emissions standards, basically saying that they would get around to it on a federal level eventually (obviously not during Bush's presidential term), and it was important to have a single federal standard instead of varying state standards.  Obama is quickly changing course on this issue.

President Obama on Monday will direct federal regulators to move swiftly to grant California and 13 other states the right to set strict automobile emissions and fuel efficiency standards.

The presidential orders will require automobile manufacturers to begin producing and selling cars and trucks that get higher mileage than the national standard, and on a faster phase-in schedule.


Great to see Obama already walking the walk.

post #2 of 4

 in todays news....


Obama to order clean-air waiver



WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama will direct federal regulators today to move swiftly on an application by California and 13 other states to set strict automobile emissions and fuel efficiency standards, two administration officials said Sunday evening.

The directive makes good on an Obama campaign pledge and signifies a sharp reversal of Bush administration policy. Granting California and the other states the right to regulate tailpipe emissions would be one of the most emphatic actions Obama could take to quickly put his stamp on environmental policy.

Automobile manufacturers will quickly have to retool to begin producing and selling cars and trucks that get higher mileage than the national standard, and on a faster phase-in schedule. The auto companies have lobbied hard against the regulations and challenged them in court.

The decision is a major victory for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, who pressed the Bush White House relentlessly to allow the California law, signed into law in 2002 by former Gov. Gray Davis, to go forward. It required carmakers to reduce greenhouse emissions 30 percent by 2016. But it could not take effect until the U.S. EPA granted California a waiver from the federal Clean Air Act to set rules tougher than federal law requires.

The EPA had granted such waivers routinely more than 40 times back to the early 1970s. As a result, California became a trendsetter in air

pollution regulation for the rest of the country, passing the first rules to ban leaded gasoline, require catalytic converters and other environmental standards, nearly all of which were copied by other states then adopted by the federal government.


The Bush administration denied the waiver in late 2007, saying that allowing California and the 13 other states the right to set their own pollution rules would result in an unenforceable patchwork of environmental law.

The auto companies had advocated the denial, saying a waiver would require them to produce two sets of vehicles, one to meet the strict California standard and another that could be sold in the remaining states.

The Bush administration's environmental agency director, Stephen L. Johnson, echoed the automakers' claims in denying California's application, ignoring the near-unanimous advice of agency lawyers and scientists that the waiver be granted.

Beyond acting on the California emissions law, officials said, Obama will announce that he is moving forward with nationwide regulations requiring the automobile industry to increase fuel efficiency standards to comply with a 2007 law — rules that the Bush administration decided at the last minute not to issue.

He will also order federal departments and agencies to find new ways to save energy and be more environmentally friendly. And he will highlight the elements in his economic plan intended to create new jobs around renewable energy.

Obama will use the announcement to bolster the impression of a sharp break from the Bush era on all fronts, following his decisions last week to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba; tighten limits on interrogation tactics by Central Intelligence Agency officers; order plans to withdraw combat forces from Iraq; and reverse Bush's financing restrictions on groups that provide or discuss abortion overseas, administration officials said.

The announcements, to be made in the East Room, will begin a week of efforts to get the economic stimulus plan through Congress. The White House hopes the Senate will confirm Timothy F. Geithner as Treasury secretary on Monday, and Obama plans to travel to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to meet with both Senate and House Republican caucuses and lobby for his stimulus package. Obama's aides expect the House to vote on its plan on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, Schwarzenegger sent a letter to Obama asking him to "immediately reconsider'' the Bush administration's denial of California's waiver request.

In the letter, the governor called Bush's decision 'fundamentally flawed,' and added that if Obama approved the program it "will not only reduce these emissions, but will also save drivers money and reduce our nation's dependence on imported oil.''

The 13 states that have adopted California's standards but could not enforce them until the waiver was signed are Arizona, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. Other states, including Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, and Utah are considering adoption of the program.

The California Air Resources Board has estimated that by 2020, the new rules would cut greenhouse gas emissions from passenger vehicles by 18 percent, and 27 percent by 2030.

The head of California's Air Resources Board, Mary D. Nichols, also wrote to the new director of the environmental agency, Lisa P. Jackson, asking for a quick reversal of the Bush policy. 

post #3 of 4
Originally Posted by dana1981:


Great to see Obama already walking the walk.


Agreed.  He's definitely hitting the ground running, but that's what we needed as a nation.  There was no time to waste.  But I do think he set a good tone in his inaguration speech.  While swift action is needed, we all still need to be patient.

post #4 of 4
Thread Starter 

Obama gave a great speech today during the announcement of this move.  A few excerpts:

"America’s dependence on oil is one of the most serious threats that our nation has faced. It bankrolls dictators, pays for nuclear proliferation and funds both sides of our struggle against terrorism. It puts the American people at the mercy of shifting gas prices, stifles innovation, and sets back our ability to compete.

These urgent dangers to our national and economic security are compounded by the long-term threat of climate change, which, if left unchecked, could result in violent conflict, terrible storms, shrinking coastlines, and irreversible catastrophe."

"The days of Washington dragging its heels are over. My administration will not deny facts; we will be guided by them. We cannot afford to pass the buck or push the burden onto the states.

And that’s why I’m directing the Environmental Protection Agency to immediately review the denial of the California waiver request and determine the best way forward."

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