By on September 25, 2019

With California gearing up for a legal battle against federal regulators eager to revoke its fuel waiver, we knew it wouldn’t be long before another salvo was launched in the gas war. However, the latest skirmish is a bit personal. According to Automotive News, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler issued a letter to to California Air Resource Board chief Mary Nichols on Tuesday that framed the Golden State as unfit to dictate U.S. environmental policy.

The letter claims California has “the worst air quality in the United States” and a backlog of implementation plans to address ambient pollution standards surpassing every other state in the union.

California is scheduled to receive over $4 billion in annual federal highway funding this October. Now, the EPA is claiming the state failed to enforce the U.S. Clean Air Act. As a result, the Trump administration is threatening to withdraw those funds if the region doesn’t take immediately action on 130 different state implementation plans.  

From Automotive News:

The letter contended that California “has failed to carry out its most basic tasks under the Clean Air Act” and 34 million people in the state live in areas that do not memet air quality standards “more than twice as many people as any other state.”

Wheeler said in a statement “EPA stands ready to work with California to meet the Trump Administration’s goal of clean, healthy air for all Americans, and we hope the state will work with us in good faith.”

California previously attempted to procure support for maintaining higher emission standards than Trump’s fueling rollback initially proposed. Many have accused the state of trying to hold the country hostage by threatening a split auto market if no collaborative standard is reached. However, neither side has been particularly cooperative — making it difficult to pin anyone as “the bad guy.” Most issues can probably be attributed to partisan deadlock.

Threats that the federal government would withdrawal billions in highway funding over failure to adhere to the Clean Air Act and attempt to remove California’s ability to self regulate could also be viewed as crossing another line. The Trump administration already plans to withhold $929 million from California’s high-speed rail project — which has been a minor disaster — and is working to undo the state’s fueling waiver granted by the EPA in 2009. Those issues encouraged California and 22 other states to sue the NHTSA on Friday. A follow-up suit is being planned for the EPA, though other environmental lawsuits between the two already exist.

All told, California has filed 29 eco-related lawsuits against the Trump administration since 2017. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said the “threat to withhold California’s highway funding over clean air quality reports is the height of hypocrisy. California doesn’t need to be lectured by an administration beholden to polluters.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom weighed in one day before the letter’s release during a climate conference in New York. During the meeting, he criticized President Trump of infringing on what he claimed were states’ rights. He was also critical of the administration’s antitrust probe examining automakers that engaged in a joint emissions agreement with California.

“I don’t know what the hell happened to this country that we have the President that we do today, on this issue,” Newsom said on Monday. “It’s a damn shame, it really is. I’m not a little embarrassed about it, I’m absolutely humiliated by what’s going on.”

If you’re wondering if the claims against California’s air quality are true, the American Lung Association did cite California as the state with the worst air pollution in 2019. It also had the highest occurrence of U.S. cities with extremely high particulate levels.

A complete copy of Wheeler’s letter to the California Air Resource Board was shared by the San Francisco Chronicle and Sacramento Bee. It requests that the board issue a response regarding its implementation plans by October 10th.

[Image: Trekandshoot/Shutterstock]

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137 Comments on “Gas War: EPA Says California Has Worst Air Quality in the U.S., Threatens to Cut Highway Funding...”


  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Fresh off the wire…

    Washington, DC (AP)
    The Trump Administration today announced that the familiar presidential seal is being replaced with a design known as “Trollface.”

    Reed Snatchlow, of the White House Office of Communications, said that the move “was initiated by the President in order to align the image of the office more with his personal ambition to become the world’s first nuclear-armed Internet troll.”

    When asked to clarify the President’s decision, Snatchlow only responded, “the President told me, ‘the idea first came to me during the physical act of love. Yes, a profound sense of fatigue, a feeling of emptiness followed. … Women, er, women sense my power, and they seek the life essence.”

    Snatchlow then exited the briefing room, refusing to answer further questions. Several eyewitnesses did hear Snatchlow say “God, i hope they don’t block Monster.com on the White House server” as he exited.

    More details as they become available…

    • 0 avatar
      Jon

      Not a fanboi eh?

    • 0 avatar
      Snooder

      Not that long ago, I was discussing the emissions struggle between CARB and the EPA and pointing out that there is a valid and solid legal argument on both sides based on interpretation of the Clean Air Act.

      But, i said then, we’re likely to see some bullshit happen anyway because Trump is probably gonna force the EPA to do something stupid based in his extensive research from watching talking heads on Fox News.

      And bam, here we go.

      Honestly, im starting to feel sorry for the poor bastards. Can you imagine being a lawyer for the EPA? You went to law school, decided that you want to save the environment, so you take the lower pay and grind your way up the ranks, building a career of public service over decades, and now you gotta deal with this bullshit.

    • 0 avatar
      Fliggin_De_Fluge

      Thats funny. All the while moron Dems run around reeeeing “impeachment” to cover up for their boy Biden. Dems are like school children acting out because they dont get their way. Good luck with that failed impeachment, and losing again in 2020.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        Cover Up? Taking out Biden is a free bonus to the far left that is running the party now. Any gory details damaging to Biden will come out. They will be second to the Trump stuff, but don’t worry…they aren’t going to let that get buried.

        I guess I’ll still have to vote this round as there is some State and Local stuff that I actually do care about, but on a National level I’m pretty well done with today’s “Yeah, he/she is a scumbag but they are our scumbag…what about YOUR scumbag” national politics.

        43 with a Pension that pays all of my necessary bills/mortgage and skills that will pay well anywhere have afforded me the luxury of playing my fiddle while Rome burns. Good luck out there…you are gonna need it.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          I could care less about Joe Biden and whether he gets nominated or not. If he’s dirty – which hasn’t been even remotely proven yet – then drum him out of the race and investigate him. I’m completely down with that.

          But the thing that gets missed in all this “but…but…but…Biden” crap is this: Trump’s the president, and Biden hasn’t been elected to anything. If Biden did something provably illegal, then I’m happy to see his day of reckoning. So be it.

          But there *desperately* needs to be one for Trump. At a bare minimum, his own party needs to hold him accountable for the endless parade of stupid things he says and does. Behind closed doors, people in his party have to be *horrified* at the crap he pulls, and this latest episode is just the most recent. And that’s the only thing that will keep him in line, because he could care less about what anyone who doesn’t support him thinks.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        “Thats funny. All the while moron Dems run around reeeeing “impeachment” to cover up for their boy Biden.”

        Warren is leading in the polls today.

        Biden is competent, but he is a relic of an earlier time.

  • avatar
    N8iveVA

    Wheeler said in a statement “EPA stands ready to work with California to meet the Trump Administration’s goal of clean, healthy air for all Americans, and we hope the state will work with us in good faith.”

    The statements coming out of this “administration” get more ridiculous every day.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Wanting Clean air is ridiculous statement? California has diverted federal funds meant for the Forestry service to maintain California forests to prevent or help mitigate forest fires Which has caused lost lives and millions in damage. If California cannot use Federal funds as they are supposed to then they shouldn’t receive any. Same issue here, no reason for them to receive federal money if they cannot meet goals every other state passes.

      • 0 avatar
        notapreppie

        Wanting clean air isn’t ridiculous.
        The hipocrisy of this administration making all sorts of anti-environmental decisions suddenly caring about California’s air is, though.

        This is just the administration crapping on Cali in retribution for Cali fighting them on car standards.

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          What anti environmental decisions? Explain these anti environmental decisions? It seems California government is the only group making poor environmental decisions.

          Unless your saying you don’t believe the claim that the air quality there is bad?

          • 0 avatar
            notapreppie

            See my reply to you below.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Come on, Hummer, you see it, don’t you?

            He first tells California they’re wrong for wanting stricter emission standards, then tells them they’re out of compliance? Clearly they *want* to be more compliant, hence the stricter standards that Trump *doesn’t want them to have*. Does that make a lick of sense to you? It doesn’t to me.

            It’s like telling a kid who’s behind in math that he’s not allowed to have a tutor. That kid’s grades are going to go up as a result? No, they aren’t.

            This isn’t meant to get air cleaner in California – it’s just a raised middle finger at a state that his supporters like raising a middle finger to.

            I get the political “reasoning,” such as it is, but if the goal is reduced pollution in California, this whole game is counterproductive.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            How is this counterproductive. California has been a belligerent child rife with hypocrisy. They can’t claim environmental superiority or claim to have superior knowledge of environmental issues that will dictate the entire direction of the country if they cannot maintain a healthy environment in the state they do have jurisdiction in.

            No one told them to divert their forest service funds to feel good projects, no one else made their air quality situation worse. Why should the country send them money if they cannot keep their state in the 1st world.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            So, let’s run with the “belligerent kid” analogy. Let’s say the kid’s belligerent because he’s failing math, and the school isn’t giving him the support he needs to do better. Can you blame the kid for being belligerent? No. You’re telling me the answer to the answer here is to give this kid less support?
            Again, no.

            California’s belligerent because it has a pollution problem that they want to address in their own way, and the president is saying no to that. Can you blame them? No. Is the answer to withhold what they need to get into compliance? Again, no.

            But the point here isn’t to make pollution better in California. It’s about hating on California, which you did as well with the “it needs to join the first world” crack.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            There’s nothing to stop California from preventing these forest fires that are causing mass air pollution, and there are no federal rules preventing them from applying a fuel tax of $6 a gallon in certain areas.

            California should be able to govern it’s own area without causing issues to other states. There has to be people in the state smart enough to solve these issues without constantly trying to bicker with Washington that they’re not getting preferential treatment.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            If California’s having a forest-fire problem, maybe the answer is to provide them with more federal support to fight fires tied to revised forest management policies. That’s reasonable. Telling them they can’t set their own pollution standards and then saying they’re out of compliance isn’t reasonable. It’s just flipping the bird at them.

      • 0 avatar
        N8iveVA

        Hummer:
        What’s ridiculous is an administration pushing coal and putting a guy that wants to shut the EPA down IN CHARGE of the EPA. And then putting that statement out.

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          “administration pushing coal”

          And?

          Most of the EPAs duties can be turned over to different agencies instead of staffing a n agency that has to find new ways to justify its existence.

          • 0 avatar
            bkojote

            Man those fossil fuel lobbyists got you good.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            What fossil fuel lobbies? I’ve spent more time working in coal powered power plants than probably everyone here, I’ve seen the billions of dollars dumped into making coal cleaner than any “green” energy there is. Fact is nothing that comes out the arse end of a coal fired power plant wasn’t already in the earth to begin with, additionally the stacks at modern power plants are 99.999% water vapor yet I still see morons post pictures of power plants over dark backgrounds emitting this steam as if it’s an environmental disaster in the making.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Coal ain’t clean, Hummer, and it doesn’t matter how it’s burned. Just mining the stuff causes MASSIVE pollution – destroyed mountaintops, toxic slurry ponds, groundwater toxification, you name it. If you’ve been involved with the industry, then you know this better than I do.

            This explains why coal is dying – this crap doesn’t happen with natural gas (well, at least not that we know about, anyway).

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            The vast majority of that coal slurry is being turned into gypsum to fertilize yards and sheet rock for houses, what littles left goes into other products. Most of the coal plants now have onsite production of byproducts or raw material handling to be shipped to other producers.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Actually technically I’m not sure that gypsum is a fertilizer it’s just used to break up compacted soil which helps plants and grass root better as well as helping to desalinate the soil iirc.

        • 0 avatar
          jkross22

          Guys, you’re getting trolled. Hummer isn’t interested in understanding. He’s interested in pushing a point of view while sticking his fingers in his ears.

          He’ll call comments like mine TDS, yack about something Trump said as though it’s gospel, and then when pushed to explain, he’ll talk in circles.

          Like most ideologues, more than anything else, he needs a mirror.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Ross,

            The church of climate change called, they’re missing their grand puma.

            Don’t confuse your ideology with facts.

          • 0 avatar
            jkross22

            Hummer, Prove me wrong. Go to lung.org and check out air quality in cities.

            I dare you.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            I checked it, top 6 worst locations for air quality are in California. Trump is on to something here.

          • 0 avatar
            jkross22

            Yep, trolling.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            https://www.lung.org/our-initiatives/healthy-air/sota/city-rankings/most-polluted-cities.html

            Website you provided, and as it pertains to this article, my point stands.

          • 0 avatar
            jkross22

            You’re ignoring facts that will get you to different conclusions – those that don’t obey your ideology.

            Bad troll.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Wow, Hummer, sounds like maybe California needs stricter pollution laws. Now, who wants them not to tighten their pollution standards?

            Hmmm…let me think…oh, yeah, here it is…

            whitehouse.gov

            Thanks for making my point for me!

            By the way, the city I live in (Denver) is on the list too, and it’s there for the same reason all those California cities – mountains trap the pollution.

            Guess we should just roll back all the regs that have made things FAR better here in the last 24 years I’ve lived here, right?

      • 0 avatar
        Whatnext

        Huh, sort of in the way Trump diverted funds from the military to his dumbass border wall then.

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          Yes, much better to push those funds into 20+ year old wars in which no victory is still in sight and more F-35s which apparently can’t keep their skin attached when flying at top speeds.

          Either way, I never remember the Left being so fond of Military Spending when I was in.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Fun fact: the big military buildup under Reagan started under Carter.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            Yes FreedMike, it did. He eventually learned that the Soviets were not in fact interested in being our friends and were still the bad guys they always were. It was way late in his administration when he learned this however and his reelection hopes were already sunk thanks to the hostage deal, double digit inflation, Stagflation, Malaise, and any number of other things happening that even if you couldn’t attribute them to his policies, they certainly weren’t helping. He just didn’t do a very good job at anything and 55mph to save energy was dumber than W extending daylight savings time.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            No one was under any illusions about the Russians, Art…Afghanistan just drove the point home. Carter was actually a pretty determined Cold Warrior.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            I just don’t agree Mike. We will agree to disagree.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “Yes, much better to push those funds into 20+ year old wars in which no victory is still in sight and more F-35s which apparently can’t keep their skin attached when flying at top speeds.

            Either way, I never remember the Left being so fond of Military Spending when I was in.”

            maybe spend the money on something else? or don’t spend it at all? Man, you people love to act like you’re the smartest people in any room (like Bark) but you can’t keep yourselves from falling into the intellectually lazy trap of black and white, false dilemma thinking.

      • 0 avatar
        tylanner

        Wow…just shameless ignorance on display here.

        This should not be welcome at our dinner table…

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      It’s negotiating, something Trump knows about. He’s parrying any accusation that he’s opposed to clean air, an accusation that’s automatic with CARB and California’s government. If you’re a Cali resident, and I am, you know about multiple diversions of earmarked money for dubious reasons.

      Just one example: the voters voted years ago that sales taxes on gasoline be used for roads, except in a fiscal emergency. The state has a budget surplus, but there’s still a fiscal emergency. Not one cent of the sales tax on gasoline has gone to roads, ever. Instead the legislature passed even more gasoline taxes, now the highest in the country.

      Chances are, federal funds earmarked for specific purposes have been diverted elsewhere, and not just for air quality. The federal EPA likely has enough evidence to back up its charge of failure to comply with federal regulations. California state EPA and CARB are not blameless, and shouldn’t be seen as the “good guys”.

      • 0 avatar
        jkross22

        I’m in CA too, and I don’t see this as good guys v. bad guys. It should be facts based arguments and a circumspect (hopefully) review of what is working and what isn’t. Instead it’s a freaking circus with people who don’t live here not really clear on the nature of the problem and even less clear on what ought to be done.

  • avatar
    bkojote

    No, the ridiculous part is that that this administration, which has rolled back a ton of (important!) environmental protections has any sort of priority of clean, healthy air.

    The faster they’re all thrown in jail the better.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      What did CNN tell you they did illegal this time?

      Also what important environmental rollbacks did they do? Name them.

      • 0 avatar
        notapreppie

        https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/climate/trump-environment-rollbacks.html

        https://www.environmentalintegrity.org/trump-watch-epa/regulatory-rollbacks/

        https://www.foxnews.com/politics/trumps-epa-rollback-obama-era-regs-on-methane

        https://www.latimes.com/environment/story/2019-09-12/epa-water-protection-trump-obama-rule-rollback

        https://www.npr.org/2019/09/12/760203456/epa-makes-rollback-of-clean-water-rules-official-repealing-2015-protections

        https://insideclimatenews.org/news/29082019/methane-regulation-oil-gas-storage-pipelines-epa-rollback-trump-wheeler

        https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2017/03/how-trump-is-changing-science-environment/

        http://saveepaalums.info/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Rollback-list-Sept.-4-2018.pdf

      • 0 avatar
        Snooder

        https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2017/03/how-trump-is-changing-science-environment/

        National geographic keeps a running list of Trump’s environmental protection rollbacks. It’s literally the second result from google. The New York Times has an easier to read tally, but i assumed you’d balk at them as a source.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        I read the top 4 and frankly none of them show any danger to the environement, these are changes to limit government over reach and to help individuals in this country, the sum total of all these do not cause environmental harm as much as they cost our country in lost liberties and financial burden.

        https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.latimes.com/environment/story/2019-09-12/epa-water-protection-trump-obama-rule-rollback%3f_amp=true

        This one for example goes directly against your point, why this over reach was added to the clean water act to begin with should cause a criminal probe.

        The environment is not being hurt by this deregulation, on the other hand quantifiable damage is being done by poor air quality.

        • 0 avatar
          bkojote

          “I read the top 4 and then decided it didn’t hurt the environment”

          Welp.

        • 0 avatar
          thelaine

          Agreed Hummer. Just because a regulation exists or funds are allocated does not mean the environment is being protected. You want to see a ruined environment? Check out downtown San Francisco and Los Angeles. Visitors from out of town, out of state and overseas are absolutely gobsmacked by the hordes of wandering drug zombies, urine, poop, needles, trash, rats etc.

          They have nothing but regulation piled on top of regulation and they are spending millions and millions and millions. All of their meddling is simply subsidizing the problem and making it worse.

          California doesn’t know jack sht about efficiently mitigating its environmental problems. If given a choice, they will always pick the most expensive path. They are doing this with forest management and creating mega-fires as a result. They are doing this with electricity generation, and now have some of the most expensive electricity in the nation, with brownouts and blackouts predicted by the utilities themselves. To mitigate emissions, CA is also building a “high speed” rail route from nowhere to nowhere which almost no one will ride and which has already cost billions and billions.

          Don’t get me started on the “carbon tax” scam.

          • 0 avatar
            bkojote

            “Check out downtown San Francisco and Los Angeles.”

            Why do I get the impression that you haven’t been to either but are instead repeating what you saw on “Fox & Friends.”

            While SF and LA have issues with homeless, much of it stems from when other cities bussed them there.

            “They are doing this with electricity generation, and now have some of the most expensive electricity in the nation, with brownouts and blackouts predicted by the utilities themselves.”

            Those blackouts/brownouts were famously manufactured by a Republican-led energy trading company in Texas with connections to the last Bush administration buuuut….

            “Don’t get me started on the “carbon tax” scam.”
            Kudos to you on getting your news and info exclusively from the fossil fuels industry’s gaslighting dept.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Ahh, I forgot the evil Republicans in Texas caused California to shutdown its coal fired plants receiving coal from Kentucky and WV.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            Why do I get the impression that you haven’t been to either but are instead repeating what you saw on “Fox & Friends.”

            You are speaking for yourself, bko, not me. I do not watch Fox and Friends and I have intense first-hand experience. I think you should check it out yourself. I “get the impression” that you haven’t been to either. Spend some time there and check back.

            The blackouts have nothing to do with Texas and have everything to to with “alternate energy” mandates. It is the same in Germany and other places, and for the same reason.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            I have been to SF and LA. I love visiting but would hate to live there. Not sure about the bussing, but they all stay because the laws are very friendly to that lifestyle (lax on Drugs, no Vagrancy rules, etc.) and of course the climate. If this wasn’t true These cities would just bus em’ back.

            Additionally I have never seen any proof of the bussing thing, though admittedly I haven’t really gone digging. Honestly LA and SF residents have spoken as they continue to elect Politicians that support these things that make the problems worse so why would anyone think those city’s residents have any issue with it.

            No, the homeless issue, pollution, high cost of living, traffic…these are all local problems that frankly, residents should demand their government deal with. Pointing the finger at Trump is a convien’t way to gloss over many of their own failings. California deserves better. Not that Trump is a saint, or even decent in this regard, but he is being used as a bit of a scapegoat here.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            And with respect to power, California does not meet their demand for electricity. Sure, what you have is clean, but States like mine (and others) pick up the slack. We could kill coal and have little issue meeting demand with nuclear and gas.

            Just another red taker state though.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “Why do I get the impression that you haven’t been to either but are instead repeating what you saw on “Fox & Friends.””

            because that’s exactly what they’re doing. a depressingly large number of American idiots think they know exactly what is going on in every country in the world (even though they’ve likely never even left their own state in their entire lives) just because shouty guy on Faux News yelled it at them.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      They still haven’t managed to roll back enough protections to catch up with CA in sheer decrepitness of air quality, though. The only air quality measure where CA is ahead of the rest, is the one measuring how much its tax feeders babble about it without doing anything actually effective to clean the place up.

      Of course, the reason for this is: Lots and lots of people are willing to put up with a bit of particulate emissions, in exchange for “68 and sunny” every darned day of the year. It’s a preference Californians have. No different from how South Dakotans are willing to put up with slightly worse mileage, in order to have access to larger cars more suitable for the wide open spaces they inhabit.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        I’ll take my winter in Ohio over Florida hurricanes, and as for California, I’d love “68 and sunny” every day! Of course, I can also see a hurricane or tornado coming, unlike a massive earthquake!

  • avatar
    Robotdawn

    Wonder how it feels to have the shoe on the other foot for once. For decades Federal bureaucracies have bullied states into complying with a myriad of dumb federal regulations. Usually it has been red/purple states not interesting in complying with rules that are designed to address big blue state issues. Neither side is right in the bullying, but turn about is fair play.
    And air quality in the US is better today than at any point since pre-industrial days. Any argument otherwise is probably being made by people who weren’t around 40 years ago or didn’t grow up in a city. When lawnmower emissions are worse than an automobile you know things have changed dramatically.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Foley

      Came in here to say this, but you beat me to it, Robotdawn. The Feds have used withholding of highway funds to force the states to toe the line on everything to DUI threshold setting to motorcycle helmet laws to making Montana adopt a speed limit.

    • 0 avatar
      bullnuke

      Robotdawn – This exactly. I grew up in a medium-sized mid-western city where many of the homes were still heated with coal furnaces. Walked to school through the haze passing by cars with flathead engines and road draft tubes spewing blues smoke from incomplete combustion and blow-by while “warming up”. Those issues are long gone and have been since at least the mid-1980’s. California’s issues have little to do with any “roll-backs” of self-imposed emissions regulations and more to do with geography. The Native Americans related stories about the “land of the smokes” that is Southern California from times before any major European settlement there.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        Every so often, I walk or drive behind a car without cats or a chipped diesel, and I remember that they were all like this when I was a kid.

        It was one of the many reasons my dad left a lucrative job writing software for Military-Indistrial Complex and became a back-to-the-lander.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Both parties are right and wrong. The Supreme Court will have to settle it. Partisanship aside, it’s a very interesting Constitutional question.

    • 0 avatar
      duncanator

      I was thinking the exact same thing!

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      +1 – this is going to end up in the courts.

      But in the meantime, there’s a way to go forward constructively, and, yes, maybe California’s zero-tolerance approach is the wrong one, but Trump’s passive-aggressive approach isn’t going to do any good either. At least the state is trying to err on the side of reducing pollution. Trump’s clearly just trolling here.

    • 0 avatar
      Snooder

      Maybe, but its a different Constitutional Question than the one being bandied about.

      The thing is, the Clean Air Act explicitly addresses this by mandating that the EPA has to grant California a waiver except in certain specific conditions.

      So there is definitely a constitutional question about the limit of discretion available to the executive branch in their interpretation of legislation.

      However, in a massive display of irony, on of the exceptions that would allow the EPA Administrator to deny the waiver is if the waiver is unnecessary. And so stating publicly that California has uniquely worse Air Quality than everyone else (which would mean that they need stricter standards than others) kind shoots themselves in the foot.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      No, I think the federal government is pretty clearly just trying to f*ck with California here.

      I love criticizing California, but this is pretty clear cut.

      We have standards for the behavior of our government officials and, when you work in government, you don’t get to just f*ck with people you don’t like. That’s 3rd world bullsh!t, and below the dignity of the United States of America.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I cordially invite you to look at the facts which I have yet to see published by anyone, anywhere, on this subject.

        https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2019/09/gas-war-more-backup-arrives-for-california/#comment-9809764

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    CA’s poor air quality is the result of wild fires that burn every fall, not CO2 or other emissions from automobiles.

    I’m willing to bet that CA is diverting federal funds meant to curb wild fires into shoring up the retired teacher’s pension fund, or some other socialist boondoggle.

    The only things the state government seems to be capable of doing are declaring itself a sanctuary for law breakers and enacting bans on plastic straws.

    • 0 avatar
      N8iveVA

      I hate it when overpaid teachers expect a pension.

      • 0 avatar
        dukeisduke

        It’s not teachers, it’s usually law enforcement (primarily sheriff’s departments) and other civil servants. There are plenty of horror stories about retired civil servants in CA that never drew a six-figure salary getting six-figure pensions.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          That’s bad, but I’d say that’s a problem that doesn’t have much to do with pollution.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            It is related because money that should go to forest and water management go to corrupt public employee members instead. The lack of value delivered by California’s teachers also influences the state’s level of ignorance, which has hit critical mass and started a chain reaction that will ruin the lives of many, many millions.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        They should expect a pension, but the answer is not to divert funds from something equally important to the state but rather to hold politicians and individuals that underfunded and mismanaged these funds accountable at booth the ballot box and in criminal courtrooms and ensure it never happens again.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      The wonderful Governor of my state tried to get his Carbon Tax bill through by running ads that said remember last summer referring to the air quality issues due to forest fires in another country. Thankfully the voters didn’t bite, though I doubt that they saw it for what it was intended, as a feather in Jay’s cap in his run for President.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      MB,

      Go to the American Lung Association website so you can be corrected on faulty assumptions.

      Science and facts first. Then you can have your ideological sandbox to play in.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    That government governs best which fights the most effectively with the other government which governs…. no, that’s not right.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      As for forms of government, let fools contest – for that government which governs the least governs the best. – Attributed to Thomas Jefferson but found in Henry David Thoreau’s writing (noted environmentalist FYI)

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    You can roll them back, forward, sideways, it won’t make a difference. Not to mention all automaker have to do is pay a relatively small fine, and absolutely nothing would change.

    It’s just a bad situation and ICE vehicles are always blamed the most. Yes they’re the biggest contributors to air pollution.

    Except California already has the toughest vehicle smog laws, has the highest percentage of hybrid and electric vehicle ownership, bans dirty commercial diesels, anti (truck) idling laws, among the highest fuel taxes and among the least vehicle ownership per capita.

    Otherwise the biggest culprit of CA smog is population is too high in cities built in valleys/plains surrounded by mountains with too many hot sunny days a year.

    It’s not that CA population, geography and weather can be fixed or changed, nor can you necessarily crackdown on minor contributors like commercial aviation, maritime, heavy rail, military, power plants, factories, industry, construction, etc, etc, but leave ICE vehicles alone!

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      Agree with your point, but clarifications are needed…

      CA can’t ban dirty commercial diesels as they drive through.

      CA can control population growth to an extent, but they’re choosing not to. I’m specifically referring to the lack of cooperation CA provides to immigration officials at the fed level.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        CA isn’t really a “drive through” state. Dirty commercial diesels cannot “Operate” in CA. That’s the wording CA/CARB uses to cover all buses/trucks regardless of where “home” is.

        In other words, CA/CARB makes no distinction to what state they’re registered in. They’re all treated the same by CA/CARB. The Port of Los Angeles banned dirty diesels more than a decade ago from entering the port.

        But I’m guessing most residents of Los Angeles or other dirty cities, are totally unaware of the health risks, cancer, etc, of long term exposure to smog and air pollution. Getting the word out, putting up signs everywhere and having residents (even the homeless) sign a wavier (yearly?) might make a dent in population.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          I’d say educating people about the health risks of pollution will control population in California about as well as educating people about water shortages will control population here in Colorado, or warning people about hurricanes will get them to move out of Houston. People aren’t moving away because of that – they want the problem fixed. I can’t blame them.

          • 0 avatar
            R Henry

            “I’d say educating people about the health risks of pollution will control population in California”

            Logic would dictate that, yes. I have learned however that logic frequently does not apply in California.

            Why would anybody move to Coastal SoCal when ordinary 3 bed 2 bath homes are well over half a million dollars, when taxes and overall cost of living are all crazy-high?

            I don’t know. But I do know that each of the million dollar homes (with four bedrooms!) in my neighborhood sell quickly. The problem in SoCal is overcrowding..”Logic” is not keeping too many people away!

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Yep, and as long as the economy keeps growing, people will keep overpaying to live there. Ditto for here in Denver, just with lower average prices.

          • 0 avatar
            Luke42

            It’s the jobs.

            I had two Silicon Valley recruiters email me this evening.

            I was a stay-at-home dad for 2.5 years, and just started back in the tech game a month ago. And now the recruiters are calling again.

            The advantage of SV is that, if you get laid off or fired, you’re back to work in less than two weeks, often with a raise. The disadvantage is that $150k/year buys you a graduate-student standard of living on a 60-hour work-week, neither of which is family-friendly. Minimum wage in The Bay Area is effectively about $100k/year (meaning you live with roommates and/or have little disposable income).

            Out where I live, $100k/year is Tesla-and-a-3000-square-foot-house money.

            But, the jobs keep pulling people to California!

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @Luke

            The key is: remote. I have seen many jobs listed as such for the right skill set.

            Incidentally if you don’t mind, what are the roles? I myself was recently out of work and struggled for several weeks before switching my strategy toward data management roles (I was a back end .NET developer for many years with a heavy emphasis on SQL Server and Oracle). I started a contract Monday which I have been told by several people will go perm in December.

  • avatar
    olivebranch2006

    We lived in the California central valley and can confirm the air quality is disgusting. Good for Trump and the EPA. It also is not a car issue, it is more agricultural pollution than anything.

  • avatar
    bkojote

    I think the real gas war here is the amount of gaslighting from the fossil fuels industry. Despite the fact the argument can be easily debunked with a simple Google search (or the dozens of links many TTAC folks have posted) , somehow “these are unnecessary regulations that create a burden on small businesses!” is a scientific fact as is “the problem is clearly too many trees / tall buildings!.” Look, plenty of scientific journals will explain how after a certain population density ICE powered cars aren’t ideal transportation solutions.

    But hell, it’s the same crowd that think a president who just got caught red handed committing treason is somehow “America First” (he’s not) or putting a fossil fuel exec in charge of protecting the environment is in our best interest (it’s not) or that him filling his adult diaper while slurring his speech at a rally makes America look good (it doesn’t.)

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Committing treason? Haha are you still on about this Russia horse?

      Increasingly nervous man says Trump will be impeached any day now.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        Trump’s most recent alleged treason is allegedly witholdong foreign aid to Ukraine in exchange for political dirty tricks done by the Ukrainian government against Biden in preparation for the 2020 election…

        Keep in mind that, when I worked for the state of Illinois, I was told that I could be fired for even the APPEARANCE of impropriety, even if no actual impropriety had occurred. And, of course, we had to take yearly ethics training just so they could say they told us what the standards are, in case we needed to be fired for either actual impropriety, or the appearance thereof.

        Surely we will hold the president of the United States of America at least to the same standards that we hold a local sysadmin to. In Illinois.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      Americans have a hard time seeing through what is being sold to them. We’re simultaneously the world’s smartest consumers when it comes to purchasing and the dumbest when it comes to information.

      The idea that certain geographies tend to hold in air pollution while others do not seems straightforward, but look at this thread. There are people denying reality.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        I have no trouble understanding certain geographies are worse for pollution than others, I find a problem with punishing the entire country because one state can’t manage its air quality correctly.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          It’s not punishing, Hummer – it’s everyone acting as a team. California certainly pays more than its’ fair share to deal with geographically-caused issues like putting Miami and Houston in hurricane zones, or putting any number of major cities on rivers that routinely flood, or putting Oklahoma City in a tornado zone, doesn’t it? Yes, it does.

          It should expect the same from us. Why? Because that’s what nations do. To argue otherwise is to argue we’re not a nation, and we settled that question a long time ago.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            We sent them money, as a nation, to help alleviate their forest fire issues, which directly correlate to air pollution. It was wasted away on completely unrelated issues. I don’t see N.C. putting their hurricane money into the public transit system.

          • 0 avatar
            jkross22

            Mike,

            I applaud your patience, but Hummer doesn’t appear interested in understanding the problem.

            The difficulty we all have – and I’m definitely in that group – is that we keep forgetting the psychological commitment to an ideology or religion or point of view will do everything it can to avoid changing. I know I debate issues with people as if mere facts will change their mind. My bad…. it’s not going to happen.

  • avatar
    Stanley Steamer

    We’ve had satellite data since the late 90’s that proved that most of California’s smog is jet-streamed over from China. CA can regulate all they want but they will never make progress on clean air until China does.

  • avatar
    Big Smoke

    Uhhh – Don’t people need roads to get to work, so they can make money, so that it can be all taken away in taxes?

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    “Telling them they can’t set their own pollution standards and then saying they’re out of compliance isn’t reasonable. It’s just flipping the bird at them.”

    This statement sums up why California wants stricter standards. The Government Agencies need to work with California instead of against them.

  • avatar

    I wonder how many commentators do live or have lived in California for a lengthy amount of time? I lived there from 1964 to 2017. What was once the Golden State is now a disaster waiting for bankruptcy. California government has grown to the point of hubris as a one party state. They don’t act but only knee jerk react. There is very little opposition to cause a rational rethinking to their plans.

    DenverMike has explained many of the physical problems with one exception. An environmental group did have many power plants closed and has not allowed new power plants to be built in the state. All in the name of clean air. The power plants still in operation cannot satisfy the needs of population now: rolling black outs, home usage cuts, using electric appliances at certain times of the day, etc.

    Does the wanky rules the CARB implements really improve the air of the lemming states that adapt it? or is just a pissing contest between Democratic states and the Republican federal agencies?

  • avatar
    chuckrs

    “The Trump administration already plans to withhold $929 million from California’s high-speed rail project — which has been a minor disaster…” If that’s a minor disaster, I’d hate to see a major one.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      You have to remember that California has approximately the population of Canada, and GDP that’s about 1-2/3rd the size of Canada.

      A billion dollars is a lot of money but, in that context, it’s actually pretty reasonable.

      It might make more sense to spend that money on housing, healthcare, or space travel but the Californians get to decide that out for themselves.

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    sounds like some demented dotard got his feefees hurt and hes doin whatever he can. good. hes going to be impeached and voted out, so let him get his jabs in. well just tie everything up in court until someone actually stable (but not necessarily a genius!)is voted in.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Hilarious to watch “states’ rights” conservatives suddenly turn into proponents of a maximalist interpretation of the Interstate Commerce Clause the second Dear Leader wants to insult some vaguely leftish state politicians and bureaucrats.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      ‘Conservatives’ who argue states rights on the issue of interstate commerce would have to be as dishonest and ignorant as leftists. I don’t think those dead white men were trying to punish California for devolving into its own third world country when they created a framework for a stable union of states.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Yesterday I learned that real manhood requires sticking your head into clouds of exhaust. Today I learned that being a first-world country requires you not to try to regulate air pollution. The wonders of the TTAC comment section never cease.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      Yup. It’s the worst kind of intellectual dishonesty.

      There are people who create problems and there are people who stand in the way of solving problems. The second group is much worse than the first. They sow distrust of systems, groups, individuals… basically anyone who doesn’t share their perspective.

      It is kind of funny to see the hypocrisy, but it’s frustrating to live with the consequences.

  • avatar

    Honest question after reading about 60% of the comments – I’ve been lead to believe CA has stricter rules/laws in place to reduce air pollution in the state. This has been in place for what I’ve been lead to believe has been a long time – more than 25 years(?). If that is the case, why is CA’s air quality not any better than it is? And maybe that’s the point – what have they accomplished since the start of their efforts to improve air quality? Have they made gains? Or has it all been to no avail?

    Secondary question: why is it the federal governments responsibility to fund a state issue that they have clearly indicated they choose to pursue? I can understand both sides of this argument, but it seems some of the more obvious aspects are dismissed so both sides can just “argue” that they are right. Our current government situation is the most stupid, divisive, unnecessary, arbitrary in memory. I have no party allegiance – they are all messed up as far as I am concerned.

    Finally, to tip my hand, I think it would be much more useful to use the millions of dollars spent on reducing the average temperature of the planet by .1 of a degree on feeding, clothing and providing shelter for those in need of such items NOW. Makes more sense than spending those dollars on something people mistakenly think they have control over. We don’t.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Air quality in places like L.A. is VASTLY improved since when I was a kid, so the regs in place did work. But it’s “not any better than it is” because of a variety of reasons, number one being population. All of California’s major cities are in close proximity to mountains, and that spells pollution problems. It’s as true in Denver, or Mexico City, or Beijing, as it is in Los Angeles. They can’t do anything about their population or geography.

      In any case, telling California to roll back its’ air pollution regulations clearly doesn’t solve anything, and penalizing them for not meeting standards that the federal government itself seems to feel are too stringent is just stupid.

      • 0 avatar

        Thanks for the response, Mike. To your – and other’s point – one “solution” would be to convince a large percentage of the population to relocate somewhere else which will not happen on a practical level.

    • 0 avatar
      Snooder

      Yes, California has made gains. Things are significantly better in LA now than previously. They are worse than the rest of the country for the simple reason that geography and population density makes it more difficult.

      Think of it like a modern 4 cylinder engine. Do they have more hp than a four banger from 1980? Hell yes. Do they have as much hp as a V12, no, but we never expected them to. California is like a guy stuck with a four banger doing everything he can to squeeze as much hp out of it as possible being told that he’s not allowed to buy a turbo charger because he’s too slow.

      Second, California isn’t asking the federal government to fund the emissions regulations. What is happening is that Trump is being pissy, so he’s holding back funds for unrelated things to force compliance.

      And finally, there is absolutely no question that global warming is (a) real, and (b) caused by humans. If it’s caused by humans, then obviously it can also be fixed by humans.

      And yes, its necessary. Which is smarter, spending money to shelter the homeless, or spending way less money so they dont have their house flooded and become homeless in the first place? Cause trust me, it would cost less to reduce emissions than to rehouse everyone living on the coast and susceptible to flooding.

  • avatar
    pwrwrench

    Olivebranch2006 hit on it.
    This goes back more than 60 years. Look at historic photos of Los Angeles in the 1950s and 60s. On a “clear” day you could barely see the buildings. I recall visiting L A in the early 1960s. It was summer and my eyes felt like they were burning. It is seldom like that now.
    The air has gotten better overall since then. Partly due to emission (“smog”) controls on vehicles. Some of the change was that many “smokestack” industries shut down. There were several steel plants, tire makers, and others. All gone starting in the early 1980s.
    To the OP: From the beginning of the Clean Air Act, in the 1970s, it was obvious that California was not going to meet the standards. Even though California had the first vehicle emission controls, PCV, starting in 1966 and more emission controls since then. Most vehicles have a sticker on the door post that will tell you what standards it meets. There is “Meets US EPA requirements for XXXX (model year).” Or Meets California requirements. Some other states go by the California standard. New York state is one.
    The enforcement of the Clean Air Act has been to not pay the state, that’s out of compliance, Federal Highway funds. The Federal EPA was in a dispute over this with California from the late 1970s. A compromise was agreed to in the early 1980s. California would have an “Inspection and Maintenance Program” for vehicles. This is the emission (smog test) every 2 years to get vehicle registration.
    This has improved the air, but as was mentioned earlier much of the remaining industry would have to get a lot cleaner or go away to meet the Clean Air Act.
    Yes agriculture has a big part in this. Anyone that has been in the Central Valley in the summer can see this. There are particulates from all the tractors and other farm equipment, the dust that goes up into the air when the fields are plowed and equipment drives on the dirt roads, and all the farts from the cattle.
    It would have made a bigger improvement if it had been required that people get a new car with the latest equipment every 8-10 years, but the slaves have to get to work. All those dishwashers, cooks, nannies, drywallers, farmworkers, and so on need to get to work or everything would grind to a halt. They are not paid enough to have anything newer than 20 years old.
    I don’t think very many who remember the way the air was in the 50s, 60s, and 70s want to go back to that. California has had different vehicle requirements for more than 50 years and is has made some improvement.
    So to say that California should not have stricter emission requirements on vehicles is absurd if you want to ever meet the Clean Air Act.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Even if CA wins, gets to set its own emissions rules, it likely won’t make a notable difference in CA air quality. Population growth can easily out perform any marginal gains in cleaner vehicles. And new arrivals probably won’t be looking for electrics/hybrids/etc (or even “new”).

      CA has already taken drastic (emissions) steps and still isn’t close to where it needs to be. And the point of holding automakers to insane emissions standards is simply to collect huge fines from them anyway. Any forced or encouraged emissions/smog/air quality improvements and or increased hybrids/electrics/etc adoption would icing on the cake, or a win/win, but not the point.

      FCA has already paid big fines (but relatively small) with zero intentions of meeting any current of future emissions/MPG standards.

      The Feds can see right through the corruption, they wrote the book on it.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        By failing to address the cost of housing, California keeps population growth to a minimum.

        Heck, if I could afford a 2500 square foot 5-bedroom condo in SF, I’d have moved there years ago.

        But, the software industry pays about 20% more there than they do here in rural Illinois, and the cost of housing is 500%-1000% more there. So, the math doesn’t work out unless you’re willing to take a hit for “the experience”.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    This really is two different issues.

    #1 CA wants to regulate automobile CO2 emissions via higher MPG standards and force it on many other states.

    #2 CA has failed to implement plans for non automotive emissions (I’m betting a lot of them are actual toxins) as required by the EPA.

    So yeah I agree that if they can’t be compliant with ALL EPA standards they why should we let them dictate automotive standards.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      It’s really just one issue: Trump wanting to f*ck with California.

      Listen to Elaine Chao’s tone of voice when she announced the auto emissions rollback. The script tried to use grownup-sounding words, but she couldn’t keep the “f*ck you* out of her voice.

      I find that the Bay Area IT types are pretty full of themselves and often deeply ignorant about business and life outside of their immediate neighborhood, and I’ll happily chide them for it. But I’m not about to make them breathe smog for that.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      CA isn’t forcing their emissions rules on anyone. CA emissions states can go back to the federal standards any time. The other states have made voluntary decisions that they prefer what CARB is doing to what the EPA is doing.


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