California is our nation’s environmental umbrella. Although the EPA generally has complete authority to set pollution standards for cars, Section 209 of the Clean Air Act grants CA the power to set its own emissions standards for new motor vehicles through the use of waivers, i.e. – CA has the ability to set a higher standard than the federal government. In addition, other states can opt into CA’s higher standards over the federal ones. 14 states, totaling 40% of the US’s population (states in green) have adopted CA’s standards. With such a large proportion of the nation’s autos covered by the higher standards, automakers are forced to abide by the higher standards or lose money making vehicles that meet two different regulations.
For forty years the EPA has granted all but one of the more than 100 waivers sought by CA and the single denial was later overturned.
Higher emissions standards are a common sense good. Studies show that as these higher standards go into effect in the opted in (green) states, drivers will save billions of dollars, while dramatically reducing global warming pollution from tailpipes, one of the major sources of global warming pollution. By 2020 these standards are estimated to reduce green house gas emissions by over 100 million metric tons.
This is especially relevant now because Scott Pruitt, new head of the EPA, has indicated the EPA will be considering whether it will stop granting waivers to CA (legally questionable) or try to revoke CA’s current waiver (highly dubious). The battle lines over the country’s environmental health are being drawn.
For a great synopsis check out:
Other sources include: EPA, NRDC, Wired, Autonews