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The saga of California's greenhouse gas waiver has come to an end with the EPA deciding that the state can indeed enforce its own GHG emissions standards for new motor vehicles. This means that, at least between now (with current model year vehicles) and when the 2012 MY vehicles arrive, California and the 13 states (and D.C.) that have adopted its rules will use the stricter emission standards to regulate vehicles. In the EPA's statement on the decision, it says it used "the law and science as its guide," in order to "tackle air pollution and protect human health." EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson says:

This decision puts the law and science first. After review of the scientific findings, and another comprehensive round of public engagement, I have decided this is the appropriate course under the law. This waiver is consistent with the Clean Air Act as it's been used for the last 40 years. [...] More importantly, this decision reinforces the historic agreement on nationwide emissions standards developed by a broad coalition of industry, government and environmental stakeholders earlier this year.

Here's a short history of the waiver story: CARB asked for the waiver in December of 2005. The EPA announced in December of 2007 that it would deny the waiver (after then Vice President Dick Cheney met with automakers). The day after Barack Obama was inaugurated, CARB asked the EPA to reconsider the denial, a request that the new President supported. When strong national CAFE standards were announced in May, the EPA's waiver lost a bit of its punch, but it still wanted the waiver to bridge the gap between now and when the CAFE rules go into effect with 2012 vehicles. Today, the EPA said "okay." Come to think of it, this saga probably isn't as final as this decision might imply. Check out the official press release after the jump.

[Source: EPA | Image: David McNew/Getty]

PRESS RELEASE:

EPA Grants California GHG Waiver

WASHINGTON – EPA is granting California's waiver request enabling the state to enforce its greenhouse gas emissions standards for new motor vehicles, beginning with the current model year. Using the law and science as its guide, EPA has taken this action to tackle air pollution and protect human health.

"This decision puts the law and science first. After review of the scientific findings, and another comprehensive round of public engagement, I have decided this is the appropriate course under the law," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "This waiver is consistent with the Clean Air Act as it's been used for the last 40 years and supports the prerogatives of the 13 states and the District of Columbia who have opted to follow California 's lead. More importantly, this decision reinforces the historic agreement on nationwide emissions standards developed by a broad coalition of industry, government and environmental stakeholders earlier this year."

The first California waiver request was made in December 2005 and was subsequently denied in March 2008. This previous decision was based on an interpretation of the Clean Air Act finding that California did not have a need for its greenhouse gas emission standards to meet "compelling and extraordinary conditions."

Shortly after taking office in January, President Barack Obama directed EPA to assess the appropriateness of denying the waiver. EPA received a letter from California on January 21, 2009, raising several issues for Administrator Jackson to review regarding the denial.

Last month, President Obama announced a first-ever national policy aimed at both increasing fuel economy and reducing greenhouse gas pollution for all new cars and trucks sold in the United States . The new standards would cover model years 2012-2016. When the national program takes effect, California has committed to allowing automakers who show compliance with the national program to also be deemed in compliance with state requirements.

With the decision to grant the California waiver, EPA returns to its traditional legal interpretation of the Clean Air Act that has been applied consistently during the past 40 years. EPA finds that California continues to have a need for its motor vehicle emissions program, including the greenhouse gas standards. EPA also finds that the California program meets legal requirements regarding the protectiveness of public health and welfare as well as technological feasibility.

EPA based its decision on an extensive record of scientific and technical evidence. As part of the reconsideration, EPA revisited the prior decision documents and record. The agency also opened a new comment period, including public hearings.

The Clean Air Act gives EPA the authority to allow California to adopt its own emission standards for new motor vehicles due to the seriousness of the state's air pollution challenges. There is a long-standing history of EPA granting waivers to the state of California .

Information, including decision documents: http://www.epa.gov/otaq/climate/ca-waiver.htm


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  • 53 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Republicans used to be liberals too.

      BTW, southerns != bigots, Christians != bigots. If you think that then perhaps you are the bigot.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Religion is the issue I typically leave alone. But going off of what Luis said, is it possible to be Republican (anti-enviro movement) and Christian (protecting God's creation, no waste or excess)? Isn't there a conflict of interest?
        • 5 Years Ago
        I didn't write Christians, you did.
        Real Christians believe in protecting "God's" creation and the bounty it provides, the planet and loving thy neighbor.

        Fake ones want to bring guns to church and bash their gay neighbors. What lunacy.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I assumed you were applying the same stereotypes as most liberal elitists have about the south.

        FYI: heterosexual marriage != gay-bashing (this is coming from a semi-libertarian would adamantly favors same-sex marriage, but, unlike you, I take the time to understand the other POV).

      • 5 Years Ago
      Yes - because this makes complete economic sense to a state that has insane budget problems, in a time when the entire auto industry is gasping for air.

      What I would love to see is the entire auto industry turn their back on this state. A few years later when everyone is driving broken pieces of crap, maybe they would get their head out of their ass and just relax on the green/hippy thing for a bit.

      I don't have a problem if they want to do whatever they want to do, however this will effect everyone even in states that don't adopt stricter laws. Why? because to meet the stricter laws more money/research/tech will have to go into said cars, driving up the price. And people are stupid if they think only those 13 states are going to get stuck with the bill.

      Talk about kicking an industry when it's down. Once again, thanks CA.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "CARB has a larger budget because it does more. NHTSA covers vehicles only and not even the emissions part. CARB covers emissions of all sorts. Not just vehicles, but boats, trains, even paint. The portion of CARB's budget for mobile sources (including plenty of things that are not cars) is similar in size to NHTSA's."

        One state has nearly the same budget as an entire nation. What's wrong with that picture?

        Every time you spout off about CARB you prove time and time again your arrogance and ignorance. No wonder so many people have no respect for California. I'm hoping when the state goes into receivership and they cry to Obama for a bailout, he closes CARB's doors forever.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "Obviously you don't live here in California or breathe our air."

        Rob, that report has nothing to do with the subject of this article. Southern California has always had problems with toxic pollutants (like the particulates discussed in your link) thanks in part to the geography. They sit at or near ground level and don't go anywhere.

        This waiver has to do with GHG emissions, which *don't* just sit around in one little corner of the country.

        So talking about smog and particulates is pointless. That's not what's at issue.
        • 5 Years Ago
        If there were no regulations, industry would be kicking your ass. Get over it.

        Carlos
        • 5 Years Ago
        Why not just engineer one car to meet California's standards and then sell those across the nation?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Obviously you don't live here in California or breathe our air.

        Take a look at this link:

        http://www.lungusa.org/site/c.dvLUK9O0E/b.50752/k.D532/Rankings.htm

        Now, tell me California is overreacting.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Comprehension might be simplistic because comments against regulation are simplistic. There's no such thing as a free market. Our economy is not capitalistic and never has been. Ever since the government began doling out land in the 18th Century to railroads and canals before that, we've been using rules and regulations to steer the economy.

        The consequences of environmental harm affect everyone and without regulations to control that harm, industry will do whatever it takes to squeeze every last dollar out of the system, being you, me, and our 300 million compatriots and the earth we rely on for life. Industry only cares when they have to, and even then its begrudgingly. There are some outliers, sure, but they get trampled in the marketplace by "low cost at all cost" business.

        It's time for Americans to stop defending industries that seek to destroy our future for the sake of profit today. This isn't just auto companies and the oil industry, but huge food corporations, the pharmaceutical industry, and on and on. They're the ones holding us back, polluting our land, water, air and bodies.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Redeemed:
        Stop expecting California to look out for you. It's just another form of telling other states how to conduct their business, anyway.

        CARB has a larger budget because it does more. NHTSA covers vehicles only and not even the emissions part. CARB covers emissions of all sorts. Not just vehicles, but boats, trains, even paint. The portion of CARB's budget for mobile sources (including plenty of things that are not cars) is similar in size to NHTSA's.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The companies have two choices:

        1. Invest in R&D to stay in the California market, which will drive the price of cars up for those outside California since the companies have to maintain the same profits despite increased costs.
        2. Pull out of the California market, which will drive the price of cars up for those outside California because the companies now have to maintain the same profits despite having a smaller number of people to sell to.

        Companies are going to choose the one that makes more economic sense for them. They will only choose #1 (the one you are complaining about) when it makes more sense then #2. So you are getting boned less by companies having to spend a bit more to stay in the California market then if the California market never existed in the first place. So stop complaining that California isn't subsidizing your car prices enough.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Re:Luis,

        Thank-you for posting. Some very level-headed comments on a big subject, glad there's people out there like yourself that can think larger than the moment or the next dollar.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Wait a minute, I take it back, you're completely wrong. I misread positions as dollars in the CARB budget.

        NHTSA's budget is $851M/year (2009)
        CARB's budget is $629M/year (2009), of which $560M goes to mobile sources programs.

        Do you bother even looking up the facts before quoting them?
        • 5 Years Ago
        From your comments I gather you don't live here. Los Angeles has the worst congestion and automotive pollution I've personally seen. A vast majority of the city resides in a valley which collects pollution like no other. Personally, I moved out of 'the valley' and closer to the beach 2 years ago because we're able to get a breeze here and it pushes the smog and crap away from you. I'm also farther from the source, the highway.

        Anyone who isn't an armchair warrior and who has actually lived in CA for some time knows how real and tangible pollution is. I applaud the CARB personnel for getting this passed, thinking about not only our health, but the health of our city.

        There are also such things as States' Rights and I think controlling pollution and efficiency of automobiles in its borders is pretty tame. Some people live in cities, they have to, it's where the work is. This will benefit them and if it pushes people to make more efficient vehicles it will ultimately benefit everyone. Quit your CA bashing, your state is just as dumb, maybe more so. It's not that people here think they're better than everyone. We unfortunately have a very real problem with vehicle emissions (we are the largest car market in the US after all) and instead of dawdling around we'd rather do something about it.

        Get over yourself and get out of your chair, lol.
        • 5 Years Ago
        This is not about "regulations" or "no regulations," Luis. Of course there should be regulations of SOME kind. The issue here is about timing and priorities, neither of which seems to have been considered in this case. Your comprehension of comments is pretty simplistic lately.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Please, I don't have evil corporations to thank for my life. That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm not against forcing the industry to adopt stricter emission standards, but I am against having multiple emission standards...CARB and EPA should have come to an accordance for one unified future standard that should be enforced to all states. I actually feel for the auto industry because I know this can't feel good in their stomachs right now.
        • 5 Years Ago
        As I've posted in the past, I can understand why California wants/needs stricter controls on pollutants such as HC/CO/NOx/PM. Those pollutants tend to stick around in the area and cause long term problems.

        CO2 doesn't do that, though, and California demanding its own limits on GHG just smacks of "we always get our way, and we'll get it this time too." Even being a big market, the GHG contribution from personal transportation is a fraction of the total amount produced, and the contribution from cars just in CA is smaller still.

        Not to mention the Feds just passed plans to regulate GHGs on a national level and clamp down on emissions even harder, but no, that's not good enough for CA. It's like they're trying to throw their weight around because they can.
      • 5 Years Ago
      So let me get this straight, this will effectively ban most new vehicles in their current configurations in the coming years?

      California loves banning things to feel good about themselves... remember when San Francisco banned all ATM fees? All independent ATMS were gone, and banks limited access to ATMs to only their own customers... after the noble residents of SanFran realized they couldn't zip down the street to get some $20s for their lattes and veggie-burgers, the ATM fee ban went away.

      Let's see what happens if the struggling automakers can't afford to produce different versions of their entire line-ups to satisfy state-to-state regulation differences, and abandon the California market.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Problem for the automakers is that CA is the worlds, like, 7th largest economy. I think the automakers will do just fine and those that can't will leave the state. Most can though.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Ahh but DiRF, didn't you know? We need mommy government to protect us from everything. Legislating every little thing is the right thing to do, because we never really grew up or know how the world actually works. Yes, more power to the government! More taxes... but only for people other than us. More laws always equal better! Soon we will have unicorns prancing in our streets! yayyyyy
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wasn't the whole deal with the new CAFE standards struck for the express purpose of preventing states from coming up with different standards for vehicles which sell in their states through this EPA/greenhouse emissions scam? Hey, anyone at the EPA read the constitution? You're allowing states to regulate interstate commerce. That's explicitly spelled out as being YOUR JOB. What do we pay you for?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Oh, and their counterparts in places similar to Pennsyltucky.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Actually, Republicans used to be staunch environmentalists. Teddy Roosevelt. Hell, even Richard Nixon started the friggin' EPA, signed the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts. Charlie Christ has spearheaded Florida's efforts to join CA's emissions standards.

        The nutjobs that have co-opted the Republican/Conservative movement are the ones that have completely turned off the majority of Americans except for the marginalized white bigots in the southeast.
        • 5 Years Ago
        +1

        What was with the media circus with the governator (he, fyi, might call himself a Republican but he sure isn't a conservative) going to DC about?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Apologies, previous post was in response to Luis.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Why should every other state pay higher prices for their cars just because Californians refuse to use mass transit?

      There is only so much energy in a gallon of gas. Eventually, we're going to reach terminal efficiency. All these regulations are doing nothing but driving up costs.

      Easy pollution cure: MOVE CLOSER TO WORK. TAKE THE BUS.

      • 5 Years Ago
      Couple thoughts - tooling and design is in place for MY 2011 cars already, so I wonder how this would affect things - outside of raising manufacturer fines (something I bet California could desperately use). Otherwise, I'd expect a many of the larger-engine options of many manufacturer's vehicles in the state to be "not available"

      Oh, and this decision sets the precedent that California will, in essence, have a waiver "in place" in 2017 to raise fuel economy standards in the state even further. For CARB NOT to use the waiver would be insane on their part - what government agency declines to use something it's been allowed to do?
      • 5 Years Ago
      This is ridiculous. The air quality in California is not going to be .1% cleaner because older vehicles make up 99.9% of the driving population.
      • 5 Years Ago
      After some complex mathematics, I have discovered that 88% of Americans do not live in California. Why should the rest of us be driving by a standard set by a state so broke it is issuing IOUs?

      I'm glad the automakers are once again at the whims of California's environmentalists. Looks like we are again facing two different sets of standards or one really stringent one for the rest of the country.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You forgot the other states that follow CA, including NY, MA, PA, FL, NJ, WA, AZ, etc. which totals almost 50%.

        http://www.pewclimate.org/what_s_being_done/in_the_states/vehicle_ghg_standard.cfm

        Additionally,
        With Florida’s filing, more than 17 states have intervened in support of California’s lawsuit, including: New York, Maryland, Minnesota, Iowa, Massachusetts, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

        More than 16 states, including Florida, have adopted, or are in the process of adopting, California’s automobile emissions standards.
        http://www.dep.state.fl.us/secretary/news/2008/02/0204_02.htm
        • 5 Years Ago
        Scorch, see Luis's post above for reference. Now, you did the math. It seems 12% of the country's population is holding up a great portion of this country's economy, if not the world's economy. How irrelevant is that to the scheme of things?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Bahahaha!

        Holding up the world economy? California is $23 billion in debt and has no plan to pay it back. Decades of fleecing high earners is resulting in an exodus of talent and the only place that has seen a more precipitous drop in home values than Southern California is Detroit.

        That's rich.

      • 5 Years Ago
      cue the "I live in xx state which is also a huge consumer of welfare dollars and I don't like californie and their bullcrappy, and willfully ignore all the other states on board which make up the vast majority of car purchasing power in the country" malarkey.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Commenters who view CARB’s regulatory efforts as badly-timed flights of hippy-dippy fancy, with no thought to practical economic concerns, might be interested to read the language of their proposals. They’re largely concerned about losses in tourism and agriculture if pollution continues to get worse in key areas of the state (i.e. the South Coast and the Central Valley).

        No, they’re not thinking much about the costs to anyone in other states, but it’s not just about saving wabbits because they feel like it—remember, the state has some of the worst air in the country because of the mix of agriculture and population density (two-thirds of its population are concentrated in three major urban centers).

        Also, before you protest too much about California’s budget deficit as evidence of its incompetence, remember the state produces 13% of this country’s GDP—more than any other single state, and more than several states combined—so as much as you might say so, you really don’t want them breaking off and sinking into the Pacific. Their self-serving driving up of vehicle prices by a few hundred dollars is part of the inconvenience you put up with to benefit from their contributions to the country.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Because it has the largest population it has the largest GDP. On a per capita basis it doesn't have the highest and I suspect that if state GDPs were adjusted based on the price level of each individual state California would fall dramatically.

        Regardless, considering the massive taxes and an even bigger deficit, you can't really argue the California government isn't pretty incompetent.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Im talking about states that suck money from Washington (ie get more than they pay in).
        • 5 Years Ago
        Do you really think the people who are anti-welfare are the ones consuming those welfare dollars? Just because 55% of a state votes conservative doesn't mean that the whole state is conservative. Due to the demographics of many conservative states they probably do have more people that qualify for welfare, but that doesn't mean that the majority of the population is on welfare and it is quite simplistic to suggest that. Additionally, a lot of the people in the south are socially conservative but not necessarily economically conservative.

        FYI- My home state, one of the biggest conservative strong holds, manages to pay more money to the federal government than it gets back while having the 3rd lowest state tax burden despite one of the biggest immigrant populations in the country and one of the lower population densities (more $$$ on roads and other services for rural communities). Guess which one it is.

        To make this semi-relevant, I think a separate standard is stupid. If California and other states want more stringent standards they should take it to Congress. Two standards increases the expenses of car manufacturers which has a negative effect on the economy. Plus, I generally resent a state that thinks they are better than everyone else despite their complete budgetary incompetence.
        • 5 Years Ago
        True. I love it when people from tax-welfare red states complain about paying taxes.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This would be a great post to launch yet another rant at Big 3 and their polluting cars.

      But i decided on something else, i am announcing my resignation. Yes, folks, i am quiting Autoblog, i will not quit vising it, i will just quit posting and commenting.

      We have been thru so much together, and i enjoyed so much when you downgraded comments, so with this i ask you to please downgrade this comment, and make it the lowest rated comment in Autoblog history.


      Editors, keep up the amazing work you have been doing so far.

      Love you all.




        • 5 Years Ago
        I bet its the next positive Volt article
        • 5 Years Ago
        Awww, but you were such a fun troll.
        • 5 Years Ago
        ok.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Taking bets now on when Sea Urchin resurfaces.
        • 5 Years Ago
        THANK YOU
        • 5 Years Ago
        "We have been thru so much together, and i enjoyed so much when you downgraded comments, so with this i ask you to please downgrade this comment, and make it the lowest rated comment in Autoblog history"

        Your constant D3 and SUV bashing got you that negative feedback. For example, you ripped on me in the past for driving an SUV when little do you realize I hunt, go into the woods, and pull a trailer.

        People that constantly tear things down and never have anything good to say are like annoying insects buzzing in your ear. You swat them first and ask questions later.



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