Beautiful coastlines, redwood forests, Hollywood, Silicon Valley... California is a much sought out destination.
The state also has a reputation for leading the country in climate policies. But, California has recently come under fire by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), or more specifically, President Donald Trump.
Let’s look at the role California has played in shaping environmental policies for other U.S states, and the current feud between the EPA and California.
A Leader On Environment
In 1966, after a particularly bad smog in the Los Angeles area, California started regulating emissions from the tailpipes of vehicles.
This led then U.S President Richard Nixon to sign the Clean Air Act that recognized California as a pioneer in environmental standards. It allowed the state to set its own vehicle emissions standards through waivers. In 1977, Congress allowed other states to follow California's lead.
Over the decades, California has led the nation in new technology -- such as reduction of carbon monoxide emissions and the "check engine" warning indicator in vehicles.
California's leaders have also worked towards transitioning the state to a low carbon, clean energy economy. California has most of the nation's electric charging stations and, by 2030, half of the state's electricity will come from renewable sources like solar and wind power.
EPA versus CA
In 2009, California was granted a waiver that would force car companies to reduce greenhouse gases. The federal guidelines were also raised to match that of California. However, under pressure from car manufacturers, President Trump has lowered federal standards. He then announced, through the EPA, that the administration was revoking California’s ability to set their own emission standards.
The EPA claims that California has not been sending pollution control plans for the past years and that some cities do not meet air quality standards. President Trump believes that rolling back vehicle emission standards will lead to more cars being built, and ultimately more jobs. He blames the growing poverty and homelessness in cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles for the state's poor water quality -- which California has denied.
The Trump administration has threatened to hold back billions of dollars in federal highway funding to California if it does not comply. The Attorney General of California, Xavier Becerra, has said that California will sue the administration because the clean air regulations are necessary to improve air quality. California's Governor, Gavin Newsom, has called President Trump's actions as a political attack and a violation of the separation of powers between the federal and the state government.
With California being a huge leader in the climate change game, is it in the best interests of the EPA to attack their policies? Only the future will tell the effect that this has on both the automobile market and state climate change policies in the future.
Sources: LA Times, The Atlantic, CNN, EDF.org, Sacramento Bee