12-14-07 by dugan
Speed-legislating is full of mysteries, and often mischief-making. But the final Senate energy bill came out all right for California and other states in the forefront of clean air and curbing greenhouse emissions. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, following a late-night report that she was seeking a (bad) compromise with Michigan auto-state senators, in the end defended California’s right to act independently. The L.A. Times has the story this morning, including this:
California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown said he was relieved the bill did not include language that could have undercut the state’s plan to enact tailpipe standards [for greenhouse gases]. California has been waiting nearly two years for an Environmental Protection Agency waiver for its standards.
"The Bush administration doesn’t want California setting emissions standards," he said. "But under this bill, the Clean Air Act has been preserved, and that’s extremely important, because it gives the EPA the authority to let California set its own standards."
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), a lead sponsor of the tougher fuel-economy rules, also inserted into the Congressional Record a statement that "there was no intent in any way, shape, or form, to negatively affect, or otherwise restrain California or any other state’s existing or future tailpipe emissions law, or any future EPA authority on tailpipe emissions."
Of course, Sen. Feinstein’s statement of intent isn’t part of the energy bill itself, and the White House may keep pushing to eliminate EPA authority and the states’ ability to act independently of federal standards on tailpipe emission standards. Without such authority, first exercised by California in 1966, national standards would likely have come later, and been weaker.