SACRAMENTO — Preparing for a lengthy legal battle with the Trump administration about how much pollution to allow from cars, California regulators on Thursday said they were considering cracking down on other emissions to make up for any impacts on air quality.

“However, (the board) has been quite public about the need to make up reductions that may be lost through any federal attempt at intervention in state air quality and (greenhouse gas) regulations. This is a public health issue for California and not an abstract exercise, so we must find additional reductions.” — spokesman Dave Clegern

The Trump administration on Thursday officially revoked California’s authority to set its own emission standards — authority the state has had for decades under a waiver from the federal Clean Air Act.

The changes won’t take effect for another 60 days, giving state officials time to prepare a lawsuit. But the litigation will be complex and could last for years. In the meantime, California regulators in charge of reducing pollutants are considering toughening limits on refinery emissions and imposing “roadway pricing” — which includes charging higher tolls during rush hour in the hopes of keeping cars off the road.

“‘We must do other things to meet our commitments,” Ellen Peter, chief counsel for the California Air Resources Board, said during Thursday’s board meeting.

A spokesman for the board said officials are “evaluating options at this point and aren’t prepared to discuss details.”

“However, (the board) has been quite public about the need to make up reductions that may be lost through any federal attempt at intervention in state air quality and (greenhouse gas) regulations,” spokesman Dave Clegern said. “This is a public health issue for California and not an abstract exercise, so we must find additional reductions.”

California has 35 million registered vehicles, giving it great influence with the auto industry. That was evident in July, when Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that Ford, BMW, Honda and Volkswagen had agreed to follow California’s standards, bypassing the administration, which had been working on new rules.

Residents Who Buy or Lease a Zero-Emission Vehicle Can Get up to $7,000

The Trump administration’s decision to stop California from setting its own emission standards for cars and trucks would undermine the state’s ability to convince the world’s largest automakers that they should make more environmentally friendly vehicles.

“We will not let political agendas in a single state be forced upon the other 49,” Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said Thursday at a Washington news conference.

One California lawmaker is already working on a way to preserve at least some of the state’s environmental muscle: rebates for electric cars.

California residents who buy or lease a zero-emission vehicle can get up to $7,000 from the state. A bill by Democratic Assemblyman Phil Ting would mean people could only get that money if they buy a car from a company that has agreed to follow California’s emission standards.

“We want to be incentivizing consumers to purchase from automakers that have aligned themselves with our state’s overall goals,” Ting said. “I think rebates are one tool. I’m sure the administration and the state will be looking at other tools that we have.”

David Vogel, a professor emeritus of business ethics at the Haas School of Business of the University of California-Berkeley, noted California could accomplish its goals through various tax changes, which the federal government could not stop.

“Even if the Trump administration would win on this, California could use taxes to accomplish much of the same goals,” Vogel said. “The federal government would have less of an ability to challenge, because states can pretty much tax who they want.”

Trump said his move would result in less expensive, safer cars. He predicted Americans would purchase more new cars, which would result in cleaner air as older models are taken off the roads.

Photo of Gov. Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Xavier Becerra

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, right, flanked by Gov. Gavin Newsom, discusses the Trump administration’s pledge to revoke California’s authority to set vehicle emissions standards that are different than the federal standards, during a news conference in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

‘Good for Public Safety, Good for the Economy and Good for the Environment’

“Many more cars will be produced under the new and uniform standard, meaning significantly more JOBS, JOBS, JOBS! Automakers should seize this opportunity because without this alternative to California, you will be out of business,” Trump tweeted.

Environmental Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler said at the Thursday news conference with Chao that Trump’s approach was “good for public safety, good for the economy and good for the environment.”

Wheeler also played down electric vehicles, calling them “a product that has minimal impact on the environment and which most families cannot approach”

U.S. automakers contend that without year-over-year increases in fuel efficiency that align with global market realities, their vehicles could be less competitive, potentially resulting in job losses. But most of the industry favors increases in standards that are less than the Obama-era requirements, saying their consumers are gravitating to SUVs and trucks rather than buying more efficient cars.

Top California officials and environmental groups pledged legal action to stop the Trump rollback. The U.S. transportation sector is the nation’s biggest single source of greenhouse gasses.

Trump’s claim that his proposal would result in a cleaner environment is contrary to his own administration’s estimate that by freezing economy standards, U.S. fuel consumption would increase by about 500,000 barrels per day, a 2% to 3% increase. Environmental groups predict even more fuel consumed, resulting in higher pollution.

The administration argues that lower-cost vehicles would allow more people to buy new ones that are safer, cutting roadway deaths by 12,700 lives through the 2029 model year.

But The Associated Press reported last year that internal EPA emails show senior career officials privately questioned the administration’s calculations, saying the proposed freeze would actually modestly increase highway fatalities, by about 17 deaths annually.

One Response

  1. Monadnock Man

    The one reason CA is tanking and tanking fast is every day some dufus law is passed without vetting or better yet determining if the unintended consequences paradigms have never been exhausted prior to signature.

    Elected CA politicians are geared for one speed, passing laws regardless of the outcomes. There isn’t one politician in Sacramento who reviews the books before putting something forward. We, taxpayers, are drowning in stupidity and abusive taxation coupled with massively flawed leadership of the first order.

    These items have to be removed from every piece of legislation – freebie, feel good! They’re the reason that the major cities are toilets or worst, and the only response is to toss more money at it, like HSR!!!!

    Reply

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