EPA Allows CA to Set Federal Emissions Standards

The Environmental Protection Agency announced it will allow California to set its own emissions standards for motor vehicles, which are stricter than current federal standards. California's standards match President Obama's May proposal for the auto industry, in which motor vehicles would have to meet an average of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016.

Allowing California to set the standard is a reversal of the Bush Administration's policy. According to a provision in the original Clean Air Act, California could potentially adopt its own standards, which other states were free to follow. But when the state developed its own plan to curb emissions in 2004, it was met with roadblock after roadblock by the Bush Administration and the automobile industry. The EPA under Bush claimed California failed to demonstrate "compelling and extraordinary conditions" warranting the adoption of standards beyond the federal government's.

Obama's EPA revisited the request. California has agreed not to toughen the new standards before 2017, and the federal government plans to adopt the state's standards for the entire country. Although some skeptics remain, environmentalists as well as politicians nationwide are celebrating this as an opportunity to create jobs in the auto industry while reducing greenhouse gases.