Published: Thu, September 26, 2019
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

US EPA Blasts California Air Quality, Threatens to Withdraw Highway Funds

US EPA Blasts California Air Quality, Threatens to Withdraw Highway Funds

Last week, President Donald Trump announced that his administration will revoke California's almost 50-year authority to set its own vehicle standards for tailpipe emissions.

The Environmental Protection Agency, in a letter from EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler dated September 24, threatened to pull federal highway funding in California due to the state's "failure" to improve air quality as required by the Clean Air Act.

"Since the 1970s, California has failed to carry out its most basic tasks under the Clean Air Act", said Wheeler.

"Today, the EPA took California to the woodshed for not solving the air pollution problems in the state, which has some of the most polluted areas in the country".

The official said that notifying California was the first step in a plan to get more of the country in attainment with national standards, but the official could not say what other states the agency would be contacting.

"This letter appeared only days after EPA attacked our state authority on cars, increasing air pollution while at the same time limiting our ability to reduce it", said CARB Executive Officer Richard Corey in a statement.

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"Just as the Trump administration is taking yet another political pot shot at California, it's also trying to undercut the zero-emission vehicle program there, which is one crucial way the state is trying to cut down on soot and smog", David Pettit, a senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement. Trump should ask EPA to do more to clean the air instead of rolling back the clean vehicle program and revoking California's authority to set its own clean auto program. Federal officials assert they seek to withhold the federal infrastructure funds in response to California's failure to comply with the federal Clean Air Act.

Now it is up to the courts to determine whether the United States is a civil society governed by law or a nation of mafiosi sworn to carrying out la vendetta. When President Donald Trump entered office, the administration faced a backlog of over 700 reports, and roughly 140 of those that remain are from California, Wheeler said in an interview. According to the Department of Transportation California is projected to receive more than $19 billion from the Federal Highway Administration between fiscal years 2016 and 2020. After that, it could trigger an 18-month clock for the state to lose federal grant money or the administration to impose its own plan to deal with air pollution in the state. California agencies have reported that pollution has decreased significantly since 1970, but many cities are still listed as failing to meet limits on those pollutants, according to EPA. They were deemed necessary because After World War II ended, the West Coast's aerospace industryand other manufacturing plants boomed, which resulted in much more air pollution.

In a press conference last week, Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board, spoke about why the rollbacks pose threats for the state and the West Coast.

By 1984, the state began requiring every vehicle on the road to pass what became known as a smog check, to keep high-polluting cars off the road.

"President Trump is governing as a wartime president", Brownstein said.

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