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EPA Threatens CA Highway Funding

Friday, September 27, 2019

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In response to the state of California’s reported negligence in submitting pollution-control plans, the Environmental Protection Agency recently threatened to cut transportation funding for the state—something that would add up to a rather significant number, as California ranks highest in the country for highway funding received.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the letter from EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to the chief air quality regulator of California alleged that the state had not taken appropriate steps under the Clean Air Act, citing over 100 inactive smog-reduction plans.

Previous Issues

In July, the state brokered a deal with four major auto manufacturers for the companies to voluntarily abide by California’s emissions rules, along with increasing fuel efficiency. This act bypassed President Donald J. Trump’s administration plans to rework car pollution standards.

MattGush / Getty Images

In response to the state of California’s reported negligence in submitting pollution-control plans, the Environmental Protection Agency recently threatened to cut transportation funding for the state—something that would add up to a rather significant number, as California ranks highest in the country for highway funding received.

Last week, the Trump administration announced the rescinding of a rule that allows California to establish tougher car emissions than what has been put in place by the federal government. This moved was followed by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra suing the administration, citing that the stricter measures were lawful and needed.

Wheeler warned that if Caifornia did not work with the government agency to develop new reports, this could mean new sanctions that would result in cuts to highway funding.

The Clean Air Act indicates that the EPA can respond to insufficient air pollution plans by implementing increasing sanctions. However, even if the agency rejected a plan from California tomorrow, penalties would not start having a real-world impact until 2021.

Recent EPA Statement

CNN reported that California has the largest backlog of unapproved air quality plans, amounting to 130 out of 350 total. According to The Sacramento Bee, the government agency will give the state until Oct. 10 to rescind incomplete plans. Then, California will need to submit new reports that cover the 82 municipalities that are reportedly noncompliant.

According to CNN, the letter from Wheeler was issued shortly after Trump commented that the EPA was investigating water quality concerns in San Francisco. Wheeler reported in his letter that California has the worst air quality in the States, “with 82 nonattainment areas and 34 million people living in the areas that do not meet National Air Quality Standards—more than twice as many people as any other state in the country.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, issued his own response, calling the act a political stunt. Last week, the EPA also announced the cessation of California’s waiver that allowed the state to set its own tailpipe emissions standards.

"We believe that states across the country should withdraw inactive state implementation plans that date back in some places years or decades and in many cases have fundamental approvability issues," said a senior EPA official.

"So, we will be communicating with states across the country on this front. California is a unique situation."

   

Tagged categories: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Funding; Government; Health & Safety; Health and safety; NA; North America; Roads/Highways; Smog

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