EPA threatens to withhold funds from California over air quality

Pablo Tucker
September 26, 2019

It further states the plans California has submitted to the EPA, known as State Implementation Plans (SIPs), to address areas with inadequate air quality "have fundamental issues related to approvability" and must be resubmitted. California officials denied that and noted that they were able to strike a deal in July with four major automakers - BMW, Ford, Honda and Volkswagen - for a compromise on the emissions and mileage regulations.

The letter escalated tensions between Washington and Sacramento and, in light of the move last week to block California from enforcing vehicle fuel economy and emissions rules that were set to be tougher than those at the federal level, it set off Trump Administration critics, notably including Senator Diane Feinstein, a California Democrat, who accused the White House of engaging in "the height of hypocrisy". The Trump administration this year withheld $929 million from California's high-speed rail project awarded in 2010, prompting the state to sue.

The decision to rescind the waiver was originally announced by President Donald Trump on Twitter following a letter sent by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) notifying the California Air Resources Board (CARB) that the agreement was inconsistent with the Federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975.

That law requires states to submit implementation plans to the EPA outlining their efforts to cut emissions of six types of pollutants.

The warning is the latest skirmish in an ongoing feud between California and the Trump administration.

"California has failed to carry out its most basic responsibilities under the Clean Air Act, and as a result, millions of Californians live in areas that do not meet our nation's air quality standards", Wheeler said in a news release.

"One in three people in the United States breathes unclean air. That is our goal", Wheeler said. "He is using the power of the federal government to try to constrain and even punish blue states and blue cities that are not part of his political coalition". Nevertheless, California has more than 130 "state implementation plans" which are blueprints pending approval by federal authorities created to tackle those pollutants.

"We actually need these extra clean cars in order to meet the health standards that are set by the federal government that we violate now on a very regular basis throughout Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley", said Nichols.

The official said that notifying California was the first step in a plan to get more of the country in attainment with national standards, but the official could not say what other states the agency would be contacting. "California doesn't need to be lectured by an administration beholden to polluters".

California attorney general Xavier Bacerra may have had the best line of the week when he responded this way to the administration's revocation of the emissions waiver.

But according to Wheeler, EPA faces a severe backlog of SIPs and California is largely to blame. "I think the California Resources Board needs to spend and focus more time on the non-attainment areas that they have - the 82 non-attainment areas across the state".

"What the state of California is engaging in is social engineering", Wheeler added.

"We've done all of the stuff that's easy many years ago, we've done lots of stuff that's hard as well", said Paulson of UCLA.

Other reports by iNewsToday