Tuesday, June 30, 2009

EPA grants California's Clean Air Act waiver

From the press release issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:

EPA is granting California’s waiver request enabling the state to enforce its greenhouse gas emissions standards for new motor vehicles, beginning with the current model year. Using the law and science as its guide, EPA has taken this action to tackle air pollution and protect human health.

“This decision puts the law and science first. After review of the scientific findings, and another comprehensive round of public engagement, I have decided this is the appropriate course under the law,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson [left]. “This waiver is consistent with the Clean Air Act as it’s been used for the last 40 years and supports the prerogatives of the 13 states and the District of Columbia who have opted to follow California’s lead. More importantly, this decision reinforces the historic agreement on nationwide emissions standards developed by a broad coalition of industry, government and environmental stakeholders earlier this year.”

Although this resolution of the waiver dispute was expected and has a somewhat limited impact as the Obama administration brings federal standards in line with California ones, the dispute itself highlighted complex federalism issues at the heart of the Clean Air Act and efforts to regulate climate change. (Prior IntLawGrrls posts on California and climate change here, here, here, and here.) I have written about the dynamics of the waiver dispute as an example of what I term diagonal regulation (cross-cutting efforts that are simultaneously horizontal and vertical), and am currently working on an article attempting to operationalize the concept of diagonal regulation and explore its implications for the Obama administration through an in-depth analysis of motor vehicles emissions regulation.

(Cross-posted at Teaching Climate Change Law & Policy blog)

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