EPA, CARB set for emissions rule showdown by April 1 deadline

Environmental Protection Agency Administration Scott Pruitt said last week that California should not decide emissions standards for the nation. The state has a waiver under the U.S. Clean Air Act that allows it to create its own tougher emissions rules through the California Air Resources Board (CARB) for California itself.

Some conservative organizations are pushing for the EPA to nullify California’s waiver. The decision is important for the entire auto industry because several other states including — Maryland and DC — follow California emissions standards.

The nation’s emissions standards are under review. EPA has until April 1 to decide whether to keep the standards approved by the Obama administration in the last weeks of its tenure, or slow down the schedule.

Pruitt made his remarks in an interview with Bloomberg, reported by Automotive News. When EPA Deputy Administrator Bill Wehrum was asked twice on Media Day at the Washington Auto Show whether his agency would seek to nullify the California waiver, he said, “I have no interest whatsoever in withdrawing California’s ability to create its own fuel efficiency standards.” But he emphasized, “I think we should have one national standard.”


NADA and automakers also want one national standard; that was why they came on board with the stringent standards set in 2012. All parties agreed then to a midterm review by April 1, 2018, which the Obama administration completed more than a year early, just before leaving office. But soon after Donald Trump was elected president, industry representatives lobbied him to reopen the midterm review, with an eye toward slowing down the schedule for the standards to take effect. Trump agreed, and the deadline for a decision is April 1.

“California is not the arbiter of these issues,” EPA Administrator Pruitt told Bloomberg. Although it can set its own state standards, “that shouldn’t and can’t dictate to the rest of the country what these levels are going to be.”

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