President Donald Trump and California are back in the ring once again with their long-time battle since the president’s win in 2016.
On Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, California filed its 60th lawsuit against President Trump and his administration. This comes as result of Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andy Wheeler’s announcement to bar the state from issuing its own emission standards, in lieu of the federal standard weeks prior.
California is entering the lawsuit so it can keep its Clean Air Act Waiver, which allows the state to maintain and establish its own emission standards and practices. Currently, 22 states have joined with California as well as multiple major cities.
Under President Barack Obama’s administration, California was granted an exemption waiver from the Clean Air Act in 2009. The state originally requested the waiver in 2005, but was denied. The waiver granted by the EPA allowed California to create and implement its own stricter emission standards, rather than the less stringent federal standards.
Since then, more than 10 other states have adopted California’s standard. As a side effect, the higher standards have caused auto manufacturers to adapt and use the state’s regulations for vehicles sold in other states. More recently, last summer, California made deals with four major manufacturers to create vehicles with lower emissions. This means that with the waiver, California has been setting the standard for the entire nation and not the federal government.
The issue has revitalized the debate of states’ rights and powers versus the authorities of the federal government. Much like the recent passing of recreational marijuana, which still remains illegal at the federal level, this serves to show that one state can set the trend for the rest of the country to follow.
In an interview with NPR Wheeler stated, “we’re not stopping California’s ability to set standards for health protection, health emissions, from automobiles.” Allowing California to implement its own environmental standards in order to protect its citizens from the emissions output by vehicles, that impact the public’s health. Wheeler went on to say, “What we’re talking about here is energy efficiency, and that is something that we don’t believe the state of California or any state should be setting for the entire country.”
Wheeler expressed that the EPA’s intent is to set the minimum standards for auto manufacturers to follow and allow the market to give them the freedom and initiative to produce more efficient vehicles.
The decision of President Trump and his administration to revoke California’s ability to set its own standards should not be surprising; given the president’s record when it comes to the skepticism over climate change as well as his withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement.
“California won’t ever wait for permission from Washington to protect the health and safety of children and families,” Governor Gavin Newsome stated in response to the news.
With the nation setting the bar low for emissions, California is stepping up to serve as an example to be followed.