WASHINGTON -- Automobile industry leaders said they hoped the Bush administration would use a tough new federal fuel economy law as added legal grounds on which to deny states their own greenhouse gas emissions rules.
The administration did not waste any time following through.
On Wednesday, Dec. 20, just eight hours after President Bush signed a bill creating a 35 mpg fuel economy standard by 2020, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson announced a rejection of Californias requested waiver under the Clean Air Act.
The Bush Administration is moving forward with a clear national solution -- not a confusing patchwork of state rules -- to reduce Americas climate footprint from vehicles, Johnson said.
Had the waiver been granted, California and at least 14 other states would have been able to enforce greenhouse gas emission limits on cars and trucks, starting with 2009 models. The principal target is carbon dioxide, a byproduct of burning fuel.
Automakers had said they did not know how they could comply with state-by-state rules. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said late Wednesday the state would sue to overturn the EPA ruling.
The decision, which was expected, set off a series of denunciations from states officials and environmental groups.
It also is expected to intensify court battles and will certainly be an issue in Congress next year.
Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., sent a letter to Johnson describing plans for an investigation of the waiver decision-making process. Waxman is chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in an e-mail last night, We will examine this decision closely as part of our broader efforts to ensure Americas energy security.
Dave McCurdy, president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said: We commend the EPA for protecting a national, 50-state program. The alliance represents the Detroit 3, Toyota and six other automakers.