Congresswoman Susan Davis has become an original cosponsor of legislation to grant California and other states a waiver to implement stricter standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles. The Right to Clean Vehicles Act (H.R. 5560) was introduced in response to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) move to deny California the waiver in December.
"It was certainly a disappointing decision by the EPA," said Davis. "It was swayed by politics instead of being founded in law, which is an all too familiar situation with this Administration."
EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson denied California's waiver request on the basis that the state did not have compelling and extraordinary circumstances that warranted the right to set greenhouse gas standards. The EPA cited the Energy Independence and Security Act, which mandates an increase in the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards to 35mpg, as a factor in its decision, and expressed concerns about there not being a nationally uniform standard for emissions.
"The Environmental Protection Agency should be helping us in our fight to protect the environment, not creating bureaucratic obstacles," said Davis. "The real issue at hand is the right of California, and other states, to have more stringent air quality standards than the federal government's, for which there is ample precedent."
The California plan provides for a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from new vehicles by 2016. Twelve states have followed California's lead in implementing stricter emissions standards than those required federally, and eight more states are likely to join.
Davis, who has routinely championed global warming legislation, stood firm on the issue. "If the EPA refuses to act administratively, then Congress has no choice but to act legislatively," she said.
The EPA has granted 50 similar waiver requests over the past four decades without a single denial until this December. Enjoying strong bipartisan support, H.R. 5560 has been referred to the House Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality.