Last night’s Republican debate spawned at least one memorable surprise: all four GOP candidates appeared to express support for California in its battle with the U.S. EPA to get a waiver it needs to implement its greenhouse-gas emissions standards for vehicles. The Bush administration denied the waiver in December, arguing that recent changes to federal fuel-efficiency standards in the energy bill eclipsed the need for California’s tougher rules. But at the debate, John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Mike Huckabee all said they supported California based on the conservative ideal of states’ rights trumping federal concerns. Romney also used the opportunity to take more subtle digs at McCain’s climate bill and slipped in an apparent disclaimer about his own support for California’s waiver, saying, “I side with states being able to make their own decisions, even if I don’t always agree with the decisions they make.” Ron Paul also voiced support for California, though on characteristically libertarian grounds, making sure to toss in an appeal to strengthen property rights.
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