The whole world is remarking on how the incoming Obama Administration is moving quickly to take charge. In spite of the president’s comments shortly after the election that “there’s only one President,” it became clear (with relief to many) that the transition team was moving quickly to advance its agenda even as Mr. Bush was counting the days until he could head home to his Texas ranch.
Doubtless numerous petitioners have items for the new team’s short list. One of the first to make a plea is Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has requested that the Environmental Protection Agency rapidly reconsider its denial of permission for California to implement the “Pavley” standards to limit greenhouse gas emissions from cars. This measure is named for then state representative (now state senator) Fran Pavley of Santa Monica, who first introduced it.
Since the California law was passed in 2002, 13 other states and counting have signaled their intent to adopt the standards. If implemented, California rules would cover half the U.S. auto market, holding car and light truck sales in those states to CO2 emissions levels lower than those implied by Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards.
The California Air Resources Board wrote to Lisa Jackson, the designated appointee for Administrator of EPA, asking the agency to reconsider its March 2008 denial of California’s original waiver petition. The governor’s accompanying letter to the president stated, “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.”
It certainly looks like the governor has a receptive audience. Obama officials had previously signaled willingness to moving forward with both federal and state greenhouse gas regulation, with or without new federal legislation. At her confirmation hearing last week, Jackson said, “I will review the waiver decision, if I’m confirmed, very, very aggressively very soon after confirmation,” during her response to questions before the committee headed up by Sen. Barbara Boxer.
This development is, of course, no surprise. Automakers have a dwindling number of friends in high places and their credibility remains low among green-leaning policymakers. Part of the problem is that the industry came around too slowly on supporting carbon control. After years of denying that it was a problem worth solving, the depth of their commitment still gets questioned. That’s particularly true when Maximum Bob calls global warming a “crock” even though the Detroit Three now all have official positions supporting a national cap on carbon.