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EPA Withdraws Calif.’s Right to Regulate CO2

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has formally revoked California’s 49-year-old right to set its own vehicle emission standards, including the release of carbon dioxide.
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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has formally revoked California’s 49-year-old right to set its own vehicle emission standards, including the release of carbon dioxide.

The move is intended to remove California as a threat to the Trump administration’s determination to cancel tougher emission standards set to roll out between 2021 and 2025. The White House aims to either replace them with milder regulations or simply freeze current rules at 2020 levels.

EPA says it also is revoking California’s right to impose sales quotas on electric vehicles. The agency says its ruling will give automakers “much-needed regulatory certainty.”

But that result is highly unlikely. California wants to enforce the currently scheduled regimen of increasingly tougher emission targets through 2025 regardless of what federal regulators do. The state reiterated today that it remains determined to do so.

“This is the fight of a liftetime for us,” declares Mary Nichols, head of the California Air Resources Board. CARB vows a flurry of legal actions to defend its powers, including a challenge to the rationale applied by the Trump administration to roll back the standards.

California was granted the right to regulate several pollutants by the Clean Air Act of 1970. Carbon dioxide was not considered a pollutant at the time and wasn’t included. The state was allowed to add CO2 to the list in 2013 by an EPA waiver concerning so-called greenhouse gases.

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