In 2019, we covered the terrible situation between then-President Donald Trump and the state of California. For decades since the Clean Air Act went into effect, the EPA has allowed California and other states to have stricter emission standards than federal regulations. However, for various reasons, Trump wanted to deprive California of this authority and establish a single set of low standards in all 50 states (and territories, counties, etc.). With the end of the Trump administration, the problem ended and California refused fresh air, but some states objected in court.
Before we get into how Ford got involved in this latest affair, let’s take a look.
Why Can California Set Its own Rules?
To understand this situation, you need to go back to the 1970 Clean Air Act. The idea in the law was for the federal government to regulate emissions in all 50 states, and this act gave the EPA the criteria they would use. set fresh air rules.
This sounds simple, but at the time, California was already using state power to regulate emissions. They added an exception to the law to respect the rights of the states and allow California to continue doing so. California may require a waiver of the EPA, and if the following is not true, the EPA must file a waiver:
- standards were generally arbitrary and whimsical in the belief that they protected public health and well-being at least as much as applied federal standards.
- such standards are not required to meet mandatory and unusual conditions
- such standards and accompanying enforcement procedures do not comply with Section 202 (a) of the Clean Air Act.
The state’s most recent waivers were made during the Obama administration, but only after a similar request was rejected by the Bush administration. Nevertheless, the fact remains that the state has refusals, and these refusals are valid in 2019. Although the law authorizes the EPA to review requests and to grant or deny them, the Clean Air Act does not authorize them to review requests. to cancel previously issued waivers or these existing waivers.
Trump’s 2019 Action
Despite having zero authority to do so, Trump’s EPA leadership thought it was a loophole they could use to overturn California’s denials. In order to justify the cancellation, they noted in their response to the claim that the EPA had in the past rejected the waivers and then issued waivers after the second request. Thus, they claim the ability to deny and then approve, giving them the power to reconsider past grants and refuse to approve them.
Thus, they overturned California’s refusal and sought to unite the state with all other states under weak Clean Air rules. The law did not give Trump the power to repeal the Clean Air Rules altogether, so he drafted the weakest rules he could and tried to force everyone to follow those rules, not the stricter ones.
“Two courts have already upheld California’s emission standards and rejected an argument raised by the Trump administration to justify the misguided Preemption Rule. However, the administration insists on attacking the authority of California and other states to combat air pollution and protect public health, ”said California Attorney General Javier Becerra. “The Oval Office is not really a place for on-the-job training. At least when President Trump took office, he should have read the booklet he inherited, especially the chapter on respect for the rule of law. Mr. President, we will meet in court. “
There was a lawsuit, and several carmakers filed a lawsuit against California. Ford was one of the few companies on the California side at the time to say it was the only major automaker to do so.
In the end, the trial did not result in a victory for one side or the other, but for Trump being expelled from the White House as soon as he wanted (and we all know how dramatic this episode was). At the very beginning of the Biden administration, the move to overturn California’s denial of fresh air was scrapped and the case went to trial because it was controversial.
It’s just a matter of time
Technically, Biden didn’t just press Ctrl + Z to do what Trump did. As he withdrew his refusal to California, it allowed conservative state attorneys to sue.
Their argument? The law that gives California non-state powers is unconstitutional. Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and West Virginia were the states that filed lawsuits last month. They further argue that when a large and influential state like California sets its own standards, it engages the entire automotive industry to do the same as in California, depriving them of the ability to regulate automakers in their states.
California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington Columbia, Los Angeles and New York supported California’s refusal to allow it. They claim that the Clean Air Act exists and allows California to set a second set of rules for more than half a century, and that it is fair to all states because it balances everything.
In reality, these states take sides according to which party is in power in that state, so this is another (as usual) environmental struggle between Democrats and Republicans.
Instead of telling you what Ford thinks, I’ll give you some quotes from their press releases:
“Ford is struggling with climate change. We support the EPA’s Recent Disclaimer to protect human health and combat climate change by setting and enforcing air pollution standards and zero-emission vehicle requirements in California and other states. That’s the decent thing to do, and it should end there. This brings us closer to the future of zero-emission transport and creates a level playing field for regulatory stability and regulation for the entire industry. – Steven Croley, Chief Policy Officer and Chief Counsel
“Ford is proud to be the only full-fledged American automaker to side with more aggressive emission standards in 2019, and we are the only company to do so today. By joining this campaign, we are joining a coalition of different states and communities that are already feeling the effects of climate change to protect the health, economic and mobility benefits that electric vehicles can provide. ” – Bob Holycross, Chief Engineer for Sustainability, Environment and Safety
Republicans can get their last laugh
Currently, the Republican Party’s Supreme Court elections are running this place. I would explain why, but I have to write another long article. But you probably already know this story. The timing of this lawsuit and their favorable position could lead to California’s denials following the path of Roe v Wade. This would be another bad result for the environment.
Or will they?
On the other hand, I would argue that clean car technology is in a very strong position to stop at poor standards. The fact that states set a minimum standard for clean vehicles does not mean that buyers should want dirty (and expensive to operate) cars, or that car manufacturers should create inefficient vehicles. Even if the Republican states take it to the Supreme Court and win, it is quite possible that industry and the public will continue to clean the air without them.
That is why it is important not to rely on laws and courts in everything. We must fight this war not only there, but also for him hearts and minds. If enough people want clean cars with instantaneous torque running on American fuel, no politician will stop them.
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