Elections Have Consequences
This was expected, but President Obama is setting in motion a process that would finally allow California to set its own emissions standards.
President Obama will direct federal regulators on Monday to move swiftly on an application by California and 13 other states to set strict automobile emission and fuel efficiency standards, two administration officials said Sunday.
The directive makes good on an Obama campaign pledge and signifies a sharp reversal of Bush administration policy. Granting California and the other states the right to regulate tailpipe emissions would be one of the most emphatic actions Mr. Obama could take to quickly put his stamp on environmental policy.
Mr. Obama’s presidential memorandum will order the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider the Bush administration’s past rejection of the California application. While it stops short of flatly ordering the Bush decision reversed, the agency’s regulators are now widely expected to do so after completing a formal review process.
Just to pre-empt the whining from the right, the EPA had never before in its history denied California a waiver under the Clean Air Act. The courts have looked at this from the perspective of the automakers and have ruled repeatedly in favor of California and other states, agreeing that they are well within their rights to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
Not only did the Bush Administration deny California the right to implement their tailpipe emissions law, they slow-walked the fuel efficiency standards passed by the Congress and signed by the then-President in 2007. President Obama will direct the Transportation Department to finalize those standards as well.
This will be announced in the East Room tomorrow. We now have a President who understands the need to act swiftly to combat the worst effects of climate change. California will finally be allowed to lead this effort.