California's Emission Standards

Posted:  03/04/2009

Pavley timeline and summary of standards

Statement on EPA's 2008 denial of the California waiver

More information on the denial

EPA press release on reviewing the denial

Before taking office Obama pledged to take a tough stance on greenhouse gas emissions breaking from the past position of disregarding science and commonsense that the Bush administration championed.

A brief history of the battle

California State Senator Fran Pavley shepherded a bill that was signed into law in 2002 that would more strictly regulate the tailpipe emissions of automobiles.

Specifically the standards would:

  • For the near-term (2009-2012), reduce emissions 22% below 2002 levels.
  • For the mid-term (2013-2016), reduce emissions 30% below the 2002 levels.

Automakers, fearing the greening of the largest automobile market in the U.S., sued to stop the standards even though the growing consumer trend is moving away from gas-guzzling SUVs.

California asked the EPA for a waiver from the Clean Air Act to implement the standards.  EPA has granted similar waivers many times in the past.  Former EPA head Stephen Johnson ignored the voices of his own staff wanting to accept California's case.  Instead, after he met with White House officials, he denied the waiver in March of 2008 without providing a substantive rebuttal to the California Air Resources Board's (CARB) request.  According to the Clean Air Act, if the waiver is accepted other states can adopt California's standard as well.  13 states have already formed a queue.

The next step

Obama's pick of Lisa Jackson as EPA Administrator was delegated the task of reconsidering the denial of California's waiver.  The first step in this process is a public hearing to be held on March 5, 2009.  Public Citizen is sending our policy analyst Lena Pons to testify on the benefits of EPA granting this waiver.  Public Citizen stands up for California's right to lead the nation in fighting global warming and our ending our nation’s dependence on oil.

For more information please click on the links provided and check our web page for more updates!