Energy bill law; EPA denies California’s waiver bid

On Wednesday, Dec. 19, President Bush signed the energy bill (H.R. 6) that Congress sent him the day before. In addition to the first fuel economy standards for commercial trucks — to be determined following a study — the legislation sets tougher fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks.

Later in the day, the Environmental Protection Agency, citing the new law, denied a waiver from the state of California that would have allowed the state to regulate tailpipe emissions from cars and light trucks.

“The Bush administration is moving forward with a clear national solution – not a confusing patchwork of state rules – to reduce America’s climate footprint from vehicles,” said U.S. EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. “President Bush and Congress have set the bar high, and, when fully implemented, our federal fuel economy standard will achieve significant benefits by applying to all 50 states.”

EPA said it has concluded that a unified federal standard of 35 miles per gallon will deliver significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks in all 50 states, which would be more effective than a partial state-by-state approach of 33.8 miles per gallon.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vowed to appeal EPA’s decision. “While the federal energy bill is a good step toward reducing dependence on foreign oil, the President’s approval of it does not constitute grounds for denying our waiver. The energy bill does not reflect a vision, beyond 2020, to address climate change, while California’s vehicle greenhouse gas standards are part of a carefully designed, comprehensive program to fight climate change through 2050.”