Muckraker: Grist on Politics

Top California officials are already lobbying the Obama administration to approve the state’s aggressive emissions program, a lobbying effort that began even as the president’s pick to run the Environmental Protection Agency has yet to receive Senate confirmation.

California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols today sent a letter to EPA Administrator-designate Lisa Jackson pleading the state’s case to move forward with its tailpipe emissions rules. The Bush administration in December 2007 turned down the request, and ever since then California’s leaders (and officials from 13 other states that also want to pursue standards tougher than the federal rules) have been pleading their case. The plan is aimed at achieving a 30 percent reduction in vehicle greenhouse-gas emissions by 2016.

“We feel strongly that under its new leadership, EPA will recognize that the decision made by the former administrator to deny California the waiver to enforce our clean car law was flawed, factually and legally, in fundamental ways,” said Nichols in her letter [PDF].

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) also sent a letter today on the subject, addressing his to President Obama.

“Your administration has a unique opportunity to both support the pioneering leadership of these states and move America toward global leadership on addressing climate change,” wrote Schwarzenegger. “I ask that you direct the U.S. EPA to act promptly and favorably on California’s reconsideration request so that we may continue the critical work of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and their impact on global climate change.”

In her confirmation hearing last week, Jackson said she would reconsider their request. Obama promised on the campaign trail to urge approval of the waiver.