EPA Nixes California’s Emissions Waiver

In what many are calling an appeasement to the auto industry, the EPA today rejected California’s attempt to implement its own greenhouse gas emissions standards on cars, trucks and SUVs. California applied for a waiver from the federal government two years ago; if granted, 16 other states stood ready to adopt similar rules.

California was seeking to cut emissions by 30 percent in new cars and light trucks by 2016, starting with 2009 models. The New York Times estimates that this would have raised fuel efficiency to 43 mpg in cars and 27 mpg in trucks and SUVs. But the EPA claims that the recently passed Energy Bill, with its raised CAFE standards of 35 mpg by 2020, provides a better national framework for cutting emissions than “a confusing patchwork of state rules,” as EPA administrator Stephen Johnson put it in a press release.

The headline on the EPA’s release is wonderfully patriotic strikingly nationalistic: “America Receives a National Solution for Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emissions.” This “national solution” leaves little room for states’ rights, however — California’s Gov. Schwarzenegger has promised to sue (again), and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said he’ll launch an investigation into the decision.