Muckraker: Grist on Politics

The Environmental Protection Agency administrator announced Friday that the agency is beginning the process of reevaluating the request from California and 13 other states to set tough new automobile emissions standards.

The move, announced by EPA chief Lisa Jackson, follows on President Obama’s directive last month that the agency take a look at the issue again. The Bush administration’s EPA denied the waiver request in December 2007, against the advice of career scientists at the agency.

There will be a public comment period for 60 days after the announcement [PDF] is published in the Federal Register, and a public hearing on the matter will be held on March 5 in Washington, D.C. Any party planning to present oral testimony should notify EPA by March 2.

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“EPA has now set in motion an impartial review of the California waiver decision,” said Jackson in a statement. “It is imperative that we get this decision right, and base it on the best available science and a thorough understanding of the law.”

While today’s announcement is not an actual decision on whether or not to grant the California waiver, the language in the EPA’s press release sure makes it sound like a waiver is imminent. “EPA believes that there are significant issues regarding the agency’s denial of the waiver,” said the release. “The denial was a substantial departure from EPA’s longstanding interpretation of the Clean Air Act’s waiver provisions.”

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California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols said last month that she expects the state to get the waiver by May. But speaking to reporters earlier this week at the Washington, D.C., Auto Show, Nichols revised her projection by a month, saying June is more likely.

If you’d like to comment, here’s how:


  • Follow the on-line instructions for submitting comments.
  • E-mail:

  • Fax: (202) 566-9744
  • Mail: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA West (Air Docket), 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Room B108, Mail Code 6102T, Washington, D.C. 20460, Attention Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2006-0173. Please include a total of two copies.
  • Hand Delivery: EPA Docket Center, EPA/DC, EPA West, Room B102, 1301 Constitution Ave., NW., Washington, D.C. Such deliveries are only accepted during the Docket’s normal hours of operation, and special arrangements should be made for deliveries of boxed information.