Photo via alfabb
We knew it was coming--one of Obama's first moves was to order the review Bush's decision to prevent California from setting fuel emissions standards. Then, Obama announced he was setting a national standard--one that would take cues from California's plan. And now, the cycle is complete: today, California will officially receive permission from the EPA to set its own fuel emissions standard. According to Bloomberg:
The state plans to enforce its program immediately, said Stanley Young, a spokesman for the California Air Resources Board. Automakers are already meeting the state's standards for this year, and the requirements for the next two years are "quite lenient," he said. "Most can easily meet the 2010 standards."California also agreed to meet the national standard, which is set to take effect in 2012, and will require all vehicles to get 35 milesper gallon by 2016.
Until 2012, automakers must meet California's standard, which the state says is lenient enough to be easily met. So if the current standard will be extremely lenient, and the state plans on taking up the national emissions standard by 2012, what's the point, anyway? A spokesman for the White House admitted he thought CA's emission standard ruling was "moot," after all.
And maybe it will be, for the next 6 years, at least. But after that, it could be extremely important. The ruling sets a precedent that allows California to tighten restrictions in the future, well after 2016 and the emission standard-sympathetic Obama have come and gone. So even if some future president were to repeal the emissions standard, or elect not to continue it after 2017, California would still be able to tackle the issue itself.