Obama's EPA Pick Considers California Emissions Rules

Lisa Jackson and President-Elect Obama

Lisa Jackson, Barack Obama’s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.

Lisa Jackson, President-elect Barack Obama’s selection to head up the Environmental Protection Agency, pledged Wednesday to lead the agency by the virtues of science and law, rather than allowing political agendas to determine the course of environmental policy-making.

“Political appointees will not compromise the integrity of the EPA’s technical experts to advance particular regulatory outcomes,” Jackson said. The statements, made during her Senate confirmation hearing, were a reference to the Bush-run EPA’s frequent disregard of advice from scientific experts on decisions including carbon emissions and global warming.

Jackson said she is also committed to re-reviewing California’s request to set its own pollution standard for automobile tailpipe emissions. The California rules regarding emissions from new cars and light trucks are more aggressive than those set at the federal level. The California waiver was left to languish by current EPA administrator Stephen Johnson. Subsequently, California and 16 other states sued the Federal Government over the matter. (Final rules for new corporate average efficiency laws were also punted to the incoming Obama Administration.)

“Emissions Permissions Agency”

Lisa Jackson’s description of the Bush-run environmental agency.

Jackson’s own state of New Jersey, for which she served as the Commissioner for the Department of Environmental Protection, joined the list of states suing the federal government.

Jackson is known as a consensus-builder and an experienced regulator. She is also an outspoken critic of the Bush Administration’s EPA, once calling it the “Emissions Permissions Agency.”

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  • Samie

    While at first thought allowing 17 states to make mandates on pollution standards for automobile tailpipe emissions seems to be good news but… having four thousand different rules and regulations depending on which state a manufacture sells its goods in can sometimes be counterproductive. Would GM produce different cars for different states? We all see the need for folks like GM to produce global car concepts to reduce cost and adjust to faster demand or regulation. The real solution is for EPA to work with states and the industry to come up with national emission standards. The auto industry fights this by throwing millions each year in stopping this, but this is also counterproductive by wasting money. If industry knows the long term regulations the faster the industry can adapt with possible domestic retooling with things like the 25b loan. Anyways should be interesting in how this plays out………

  • Less NOx

    About time. While the (former) big three used to build cars with different emissions for CA and the rest of the country in the 70s and 80s, after most of the New England states joined with the same standards in the 90’s then most manufacturers went ahead with “50 state emissions”. Now that the number of states is 16 or 17, I think they will let California set the standard and then match it for uniformity. In any case, I don’t think the carmakers will find it cost effective to make diff. models for diff states.

  • Collin Burnell

    I think you’ll continue to have (2) level’s, possibly (3) and states like New York and New Jersey will be quick to adopt the 2nd level and work towards the highest (third) level.

    I have huge admiration for California Law makers and everyone involved who took on the Federal Government. That took some real courage!!! When I purchased my 2000 Mercury Sable, it was just about the time I was becoming Environmentally Aware. I ‘custom’ ordered the vehicle (this was in N.J.) and was enthusiastic about selecting a unit that met California’s Emission Standards (at the time).

    I am also already inspired by Lisa Jackson and I am curious about another New Jersian… Former Governor Whitman. Although she runs on a Conservative ticket, I believe she had a huge commitment to the environment and that it was squashed by the Bush Administration. Maybe she’ll find a place in the new Administration. Hmmm!

  • Bryce

    Though I am proud of my state and its environmental stuardship, (unlike its failed financial stewardship….which is another story) making different rules throughout the country puts unnecesary pressure on all the automakers to reach goals varying from region to region. These are the same barriers that keep us from getting the fuel efficient cars of Europe. Variation in the rules was only created because their was a vacuum of power in Washington regarding their goals for years, this being their reaction to it. Now that there is a power in washinton that would be interested in resolving this, I hope that he will be able to bring the states in line and make the whole thing streamlined so that the people of every state aren’y driving completely different cars.

  • Priusmaniac

    I used to call it the Earnings Protection Agency because all its decisions were systematically assuring the oilies that their oil sales revenues would stay high. Tomorrow perhaps we will see a change and be able to call it the Environment Protection Agency again. We will know soon enough though the answers on these fundamental questions:
    Is the US joining the Kyoto Protocol?
    Is a carbon tax applied on fossil CO2 emissions and if so how much?
    Are new non-hybrid cars and SUV homologated after 2012?
    Is an oil import duty applied on foreign oil?
    Is it lower or higher then the present duty on import Ethanol?
    Have all new engines to be Flex-Fuel by law?
    Are new coal power plants banned?
    Are the existing ones shut down?
    Is the standard voltage increased?
    Are south side solar roofs systematic?
    Are shower heat recovery heat exchangers promoted?
    Is railway electrification on its way?
    Are heat pumps promoted as replacement for heater?
    Are thermoacoustic fridges developed?
    Are LED lamps tax free and promoted?
    Are chimneys taxed?
    Are cars taxed on weight times pollution?
    Are buildings taxed on volume instead of surface?
    Are heavy metals taxed?
    Do ethanol or electric mowers replace gasoline lawnmowers?
    Are public sales of toxic solvents authorized?
    Is geothermal energy exploited?
    Are bioplastics like PLA, biopolyethylene, bioPVC promoted?

  • AP

    This upcoming decision could be the difference between rational energy policy and a major debacle. The Clean Air Act allowed California to control pollutants that affected them in the 1960’s, and CO2 was not considered a pollutant. Depending on the language of the law, it’s possible that could be stretched to include CO2, but that certainly wasn’t its intention.

    In any case, California’s adopting CO2 limits will do little to control one source (of many) of one greenhouse gas (of many). In other words, its symbolic. California is free to use symbolism, but it should be willing to use its own resources to do so, as well as its residents’. Passing a higher fuel tax to reduce their consumption would do much more to reduce their carbon footprint, and it wouldn’t require any new rules or regulations.

    Being a trend-setting, green state, California should have no problems in summoning the political will to add $.50 or so to their gas tax in order to support reducing greenhouse gases. That would send a clear signal that not only do they say they are green, but they mean it!

  • Samie

    Imposing tax systems don’t always have the best results in our American culture. Will there be fundamental changes in political ideologies? Hard to say and though not a bad approach it seems that we Americans are not fully ready to embrace some forms of European style of government. Questions that I have from comments from Priusmaniac is how much a role will lobbyist have on promoting silly environmental schemes that benefit so few? Leadership is needed clearly and direction that does not give into short term schemes like CNG or ethanol basically replacing fuel for fuel. Also political pressure will happen eg. say only allowing union construction companies to retro gov buildings. The point is it will not be easy despite what we had bc over taxing or non uniformed regulation can hamper business helping bring the Newts of the world into power. This creates sometimes dump misguided deregulation or close relationships with special interests that won’t want things like Co2 or other new regulation or taxes. While I’m excited about the potential change I’m worried many will fall into the same political traps of old…..

  • AP

    I have the same concerns. I believe that most politicians are more interested in APPEARING to do something about (insert your issue here) than actually producing results, while benefitting some benefitting some special interest group.

    Having said it that way, I honestly don’t know what California would accomplish by pushing this (apparently illegal) law. I doubt the constituents want their choices in cars 1) restricted or 2) made more expensive, and I doubt than anyone who has quantified the effect on the environment would conclude that it wil be measurable. “Feeling good” about the environment won’t improve it.

    If they are trying to start a trend, they are starting the wrong one: higher mileage requirements combined with low gas prices means more miles driven, more congestion, more urban sprawl, and little fuel saved. That’s what CAFE has done for us over the last 25 years. That’s what it will do in the future.

    Is this legislature out of control, out of touch, or just stupid?

  • rdc100

    I agree with you but would point out the following. The 17 states suing would equate to a gigantic portion of the car sales in the US. I am not sure, but I believe that California’s are the most stringent. If the car companies just follow those laws they *should* be fine in the other states.

  • jammy1

    The California waiver was left to languish by current EPA administrator Stephen Johnson. Subsequently, California and 16 other states sued the Federal Government ..Best Business Hosting