• Dec 27, 2007
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson (shown above) has found himself with few friends after denying California's request for a waiver to regulate its own emissions. The denial was issued shortly after President Bush signed the new energy bill into law, leaving some to wonder if the auto industry struck a deal with the White House - we'll give you your energy bill if you give us one national emissions standard to follow, i.e. don't allow California to set its own set of stricter emissions standards. How did the White House get involved? A few newspapers have reported that Vice President Dick Cheney met with each of the Big 3 domestic automakers in the months leading up to the energy bill's passage. Did Cheney order EPA chief Johnson to deny California's request against the unanimous counsel of his advisors? Who knows, but the appearance of impropriety is there.

Johnson, however, is the one who has to back up the decision to deny California the ability to set its own emissions standards. As such, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has invited him to the Golden State to explain his decision to an eager audience that includes Edmund G. Brown Jr. (Attorney General of California), Mary Nichols (Chairperson of the California Air Resources Board), Fran Pavley (Senior Advisor, Natural Resources Defense Council), and Carl Pope (Executive Director of the Sierra Club) – a truly hostile crowd if ever there was one. There will no doubt be other curious senators in attendance for this field briefing, scheduled for January 10th. Since it's just an invitation, we're fairly certain that Johnson doesn't have to go, but for his own safety he better not show up with the automakers' interests as his only justification for the controversial decision.

[Source: Senate.gov via AutoblogGreen, Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Getty]


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  • 27 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      Here's a question - if CARB is really going after greenhouse gases, then why isn't it banning R22 NOW (it's due to die in 2010), or R134a? Those agents are orders-of-magnitude higher on causing greenhouse effects than CO2 (1600x and 1300x respectively). And what about methane reclamation from landfills, etc?

      So it seems from my point of view, CARB is really hypocritical in calling on a limited scope of enforcement re: CO2 and cars.

      • 7 Years Ago
      Once again, Autoblog incorrectly states or implies that new motor vehicles sold in California do not have to meet more stringent tailpipe emissions standards. When will Autoblog's writers understand that the only consequence of the EPA's recent denial of California's request for a waiver is for greenhouse gas emissions?

      And Horst and everyone else who complains about the potential for numerous standards if the states are allowed to set their own standards need to shut the hell up because there are, and will be, only two: The standards set by the Federal government and the stricter standards set by California. Every other state can choose from only one or the other.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Why do you say only cali will have their own standards? If the federal government allows cali to do as they wish, they have to allow other states also... What happens then? You cant allow one state to get away with something and not allow the rest.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Nate,
        I'm not positive on this, but I think that California had their version of an EPA before the federal government did. Maybe this is why CA EPA is allowed different rules: because it's been around longer. (?) This set a precedent long ago as CA started regulating these things before it was ever done at the federal level. Once the federal gvt got involved, it governed all the states other than CA. It couldn't, however, impose less-strict standards on CA, nor could it abolish CA's rules, since they pre-dated the fed's. (Kinda like how Yellowstone N.P. administers their own fishing licenses... they existed as a governed entity before ID, MT, or WY were established as states... so a MT fishing license is worthless in YNP. As another side note, that is why Yellowstone is considered the first N.P... It needed to be federally declared since no state could manage it. So, Yosemite became a national park after Yellowstone, but it existed as a protected park, under CA supervision, before Yellowstone was protected.)

        I've certainly been wrong in the past, so if someone knows more, please chime in. I'd be curious to know.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I don't know the agreed politics of CARB and the environazis, but I can tell you for sure that the even if CARB did predate Federal emissions laws, the doctrine of preemption would allow the federal government to step in and tell them what to do, so long as they are exercising a federal power.
      • 7 Years Ago
      @Daniel

      'The CARB's actions, although not intentional, are the primary reason that we are all today not driving bio-diesel, series hybrids that get 100 mpg and have far less emissions than the proposed CARB standard.'

      That makes zero sense. Nor do you have any evidence to support the claim.

      Standards that are more stringent than the federal level are the primary reason we aren't getting 100mpg vehicles????????

      No, the U.S. auto industry's decades long resistance to stricter standards are more likely to blame. Technology restrictions aside.

      @nate

      'Why do you say only cali will have their own standards?'

      Because it's the law as it currently stands.

      States can go by the EPA standards or CARB.

      As John Neff was made aware of during his last misinformed post on the subject. /chortle
        • 7 Years Ago
        Willy:

        CARB does not allow diesel engines.

        Google PNGV - that will answer your questions.

        • 7 Years Ago
        The reason we don't get 100 MPG vehicles (technology aside) is supply and demand. Period. People demand it, companies will build it. Essentially you're just arguing that the auto industry is wrong for selling to people what they want.
      • 7 Years Ago
      So, Hooper, I take it you think our continued reliance on foreign oil is OK? Are you an al Qaeda sympathizer?

      What do you have against full size sedans that get 100 mpg?

      Google the PNGV so you can see the types of cars that we could be driving today if is wasn't for CARB preventing a sound business model to the auto industry. Bio-Diesel Series Drive Electric Hybrids - that is the bridge technology to get us to the Trillion or so dollars in infrastructure investment to transition to a Hydrogen fuel transportation fleet. And, CARB is preventing the development and marketing of these hyper efficient and very low emissions Bio-Diesel Hybrids.

      CARB needs to do some THINKING.
        • 7 Years Ago
        And, CARB is preventing the development and marketing of these hyper efficient and very low emissions Bio-Diesel Hybrids.

        Bio-Diesel? heck yes!

        Bio-Diesel Hybrids?

        I heard that these were pretty expensive to build/develop, which is why there aren't that many. But power to the car makers to build these.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Whoops! forgot to put your part in quotes!

        "And, CARB is preventing the development and marketing of these hyper efficient and very low emissions Bio-Diesel Hybrids"
      • 7 Years Ago
      I'd go.

      And I'd read, very clearly and loudly: "Article I, Section 8, Clause 3: The Congress shall have power . . . To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes;"

      And I'd further recommend, that if they don't like it, then maybe they shouldn't tack on extra lanes to their ungodly highways and hire a real urban planner.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I really get irritated when people think that having several emissions standards is better than having just one for the nation. The CARB's actions, although not intentional, are the primary reason that we are all today not driving bio-diesel, series hybrids that get 100 mpg and have far less emissions than the proposed CARB standard.

        A single national standard that allows for trade-offs between pollutants (NoX vs. CO2 etc.) to achieve a composite standard would allow auto makers to bring to market the kinds of cars they produced 10 years ago under the US DOE Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles.

        It clearly is the unintended consequences of the CARB's regulations that are preventing this kind of real progress. Instead of short term political capital, the CARB, and the Governor and AG should consider how we can get to total independence from foreign oil and the homeland security implications of our continued reliance on oil from overseas.

        Sometimes people in power need to think a bit beyond their short term political interest and this is such a time.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I don't understand how in California it's perfectly legal for Arnold to drive a huge Hummer, and it's illegal to drive a small 70mpg diesel econobox.

      I don't know how they measure these 2 cars exhaust, but it's obvious to me that Hummer contributes more into Global warming.

        • 7 Years Ago
        Hummers are considered trucks and therefore have different (more lax) emissions standards than passenger vehicles. A truck with SULEV emissions actually produces much more pollution than a passenger vehicle with an SULEV rating.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I personally wonder why the idiots at the Sierra club were "invited" to chime in. Aren't they the tools that got the morons at the California Air Resources Board to mandate MTBE thereby polluting Lakes, and Rivers for years, and possibly DECADES to come?

      Just wondering if the greenies have thought this one through. It does make complete sense to have one single standard across the entire country. If you think about it, it would translate into potentially cheaper vehicles in states like California and New York where emissions laws are already tighter than all get out.

      Clean air is a great thing, but creating additional taxes to achieve that goal is stupid. (Yes, I consider buying a NEW Car to meet the air standards a TAX.)
      • 7 Years Ago
      Why, all the sudden, has everybody discovered the same filter? It's horrid!
      • 7 Years Ago
      What I don't understand is that people are saying it's too expensive to R&D for 5 different standards. Why don't they (the auto makers) just go w/ the strictest and make that their mold. That way, they sell ONE spec that's 50 state compliant as opposed to a CA, NY... Keep politics out of it. But hey, what do I know
      • 7 Years Ago
      after reading all the comments i have to wonder...
      if a large state other than CA decided to mandate stricter antipollution laws than CA would that state become the default? would it effectively render CARB useless?
      taken a step further...if state X decided only hybrid vehicles including trucks and urban busses could pass their new standard would they be allowed to do that? would all the dealerships in that state only stock hybrids? how many would shut down? more importantly, would CARB insist on 3 federal standards because state X standards didn't meed california's needs? something to think about.
        • 7 Years Ago
        California is the *only* state allowed to separately regulate the emissions since CARB existed before the EPA. States have the option of either following California's lead, or the EPA. State X (NY, Texas, etc) does not have the ability to set their own independent standards.

      • 7 Years Ago
      'CARB does not allow diesel engines.'

      Diesel engines that don't meet emission standards...

      which was the point of CARB, not efficiency...

      http://www.arb.ca.gov/html/mission.htm
        • 7 Years Ago
        CARB should limits its regulations to issues within California and not deal with national issues like auto emissions standards. There is plenty of good CARB can do dealing with fixed source emissions like industrial plants, factories, paint shops, oil refineries, public buildings etc. They should leave the planes, trains and automobiles to the Feds.

        And as for the efficiency issue - CARB and all the rest of us should be very concerned with the idea of continuing to send billions of dollars each year to those Petro Sheik pricks in the Middle East to fund radical Islamic Madrasas and international terrorism. America should be importing ZERO gallons of oil. I do not want to see a single American GI die in the Middle East when we should be telling all of them to pound sand.
        • 7 Years Ago
        "emission > efficiency is the WRONG idea. "

        Unless you're the majority of people on earth who are confused as to why the US provides 25% of the entire planets emissions.

        Times have changed. I've a pair of diesels, in California, both were purchased for efficiency. I've also a Camry Hybrid, purchased a few years after the last TDi, and purchased primarily for emissions.

        The whole emissions vs efficiency debate is a moot one, it all boils down to personal choice. Having my TDi's idle and pollute barely below the allowable limit while my Camry pollutes nothing in the same condition seemed pretty pointless to me.
        • 7 Years Ago
        emission > efficiency is the WRONG idea.
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