Wednesday, July 1, 2009

California Allowed to Raise Mileage Standards

California gets green light to set tougher mileage standards on new vehicles
Matthew B. Stannard, SF Chronicle, July 1, 2009

Federal officials on Tuesday cleared California to impose tough greenhouse gas limits on new motor vehicles that form the basis of new nationwide rules in 2012.

California has a history of setting environmental standards more rigorous than the federal government's since before 1970, and the Clean Air Act passed that year permits the state to continue to do so, providing it receives a waiver from the EPA.

The state law setting the new carbon dioxide standards, written by then-Assemblywoman Fran Pavley, passed in 2002, and the state sought an EPA waiver in 2005. But the EPA denied the waiver in 2007, saying it was important to have a national emissions standard and that a recently passed energy bill raising fuel economy standards was a better universal rule. In January, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson promised to review the waiver decision. On Tuesday, Jackson granted the California waiver.

The new national standards, which are still being developed, are due to take effect in 2012 and would include both fuel economy and greenhouse gas pollution standards. They would require an average fuel economy of 35.5 miles per gallon in 2016; current federal standards require 27.5 mpg for cars and 22.3 mpg for SUVs and light trucks. California's new rules will be followed by 13 other states - Arizona, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington - and the District of Columbia.

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