California Denied Bid For Stricter Emissions, Schwarzenegger Will Be Back

What do you get for the auto industry that just sucked up a new fuel economy bill? A book? Maybe some nice chocolates? If you're President Bush why not deny California's bid to impose stricter auto emissions, thereby discouraging other states from doing the same? As we mentioned in our guide to emissions laws, states have to apply for waivers if they want laws different from the federal statutes. Automakers are pleased as punch regarding the decision, while the Californian Gov and environmentalists are a little peeved (and ready to sue). Full press release from the Governator below the jump.

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement after U.S. EPA Rejects California's Tailpipe Emissions Waiver Request

Governor Schwarzenegger today issued the following statement after the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), after nearly two years of delay,
rejected California's request to regulate tailpipe emissions from passenger
cars and light trucks. Over the past year, the Governor has lobbied the
federal government, meeting and sending letters to both President Bush and
USEPA Administrator Johnson. Last month, the Governor announced
California's lawsuit against the agency for failing to act. Today, he
vowed to appeal the decision and pursue every legal opportunity to obtain
the waiver.

"While the federal energy bill is a good step toward reducing dependence on
foreign oil, the President's approval of it does not constitute grounds for
denying our waiver. The energy bill does not reflect a vision, beyond
2020, to address climate change, while California's vehicle greenhouse gas
standards are part of a carefully designed, comprehensive program to fight
climate change through 2050," said Governor Schwarzenegger.

"California has a long and proud history of leadership in reducing pollution
and fighting for clean air. Our citizens place a high priority on good
health and a clean environment, and we are ready to implement the nation's
cleanest standards for vehicle emissions. It has been nearly two years
since we requested the waiver and, now, sixteen other states are following
our lead to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, increase fuel efficiency
and help reduce harmful greenhouse gases. A ruling from the U.S. Supreme
Court earlier this year made it clear that the USEPA has the authority to
limit greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles.

"It is disappointing that the federal government is standing in our way and
ignoring the will of tens of millions of people across the nation. We will
continue to fight this battle. California sued to compel the agency to act
on our waiver, and now we will sue to overturn today's decision and allow
Californians to protect our environment."

Under the Federal Clean Air Act, California has the right to set its own
tougher-than-federal vehicle emission standards, as long as it obtains a
waiver from USEPA. Over the past 30 years the USEPA has granted California
more than 40 such waivers, denying none.

The original request for a waiver of federal preemption of California's
Motor Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards was made by the California
Air Resources Board (ARB) on December 21, 2005. The waiver, allowing
California to enact and enforce emissions standards to reduce greenhouse gas
emissions from automobiles, was requested after the Air Resources Board
developed regulations based on a 2002 California law, AB 1493 by
Assemblymember Fran Pavley.

That law required California to establish new standards for motor vehicle
greenhouse gas emissions beginning in model year 2009. The ARB-adopted
regulations will phase in and ramp up over eight years to cut global warming
emissions from new vehicles by nearly 30 percent by model year 2016.

by implementing these standards, California would be eliminating greenhouse
gases equivalent to taking 6.5 million cars off the road by the year 2020.
If all the other states with similar plans follow through, that figure would
grow to nearly 22 million vehicles and would cut gasoline consumption by an
estimated 11 billion gallons a year.

In letters sent on April
10, 2006 and

October 24, 2006 to President Bush, the Governor reiterated the urgency of
approving California's request to address global warming. On
April 25, 2007, 16 months
after the original waiver request, Governor Schwarzenegger sent a letter to
Administrator Johnson informing him of California's intent to sue after 180
days under the Clean Air Act and Administrative Procedure Act, which
provides mechanisms for compelling delayed agency action.

California's request has been supported by recent judicial decisions. In
September, a court decision in Vermont confirmed that states do have the
ability to adopt California's motor vehicle greenhouse gas emissions
standards. Sixteen states, comprising about 45 percent of all U.S. auto
sales have adopted, or are in the process of adopting, California's
standards.

In the Vermont case, the judge dismissed the argument by automobile
manufacturers that they could not comply with the California-based
regulation because the technology was out of reach and that it would cost
too much. The Vermont decision came on the heels of a U.S. Supreme Court
ruling last April saying the U.S. EPA has the authority to regulate
greenhouse gases.

States that have adopted, or are in the process of adopting, California's
strict automobile emissions standards are: Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut,
Florida, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York,
Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont and Washington.
[Sources: CA Governor's Office, NY Times]