California has a waiver program unique to the State, and there appears to be nothing like it throughout the rest of US federal law.
This is important because, since last year, the transportation sector has contributed more to US greenhouse-gas emissions than power plants.
If California has any hope of tackling this issue from now on at the state level, it must secure its waiver.
What is the waiver?
Let’s say; The rules only require that types of cars get more efficient every year, and they grant automakers exceptions if consumers opt for larger cars.
Why in California?
California has this geographically unfortunate set of factors that traps smog into the Los Angeles basin and it has turned out to be completely true over the years and has shown a result of facts and research confirmations.
California was the first state and governmental entity to enact tailpipe standards
California is written into the Clean Air Act by name: At any time, it can ask the EPA administrator for a waiver to restrict tailpipe pollution more stringently than the federal government. If its proposed rules are “at least”as protective of public health and welfare as the EPA’s, then the administrator must grant the waiver.
This power is reserved alone for California, and it only covers pollution from cars. No other state can ask for a waiver. (In all of federal law, this might be the only time that a specific state is given special authority under such a major statute.)
And since any car dealership in a state bordering a waiver state can sell California-compliant cars, the vast majority of Americans live at least partly under the Golden State rules.It could also worsen the health of the roughly 130 million Americans who depend directly on the Golden State’s more stringent environmental standards.
Under the same provision, any other state can choose to adopt California’s more stringent standards. Fifteen states currently opt for the tougher rules, including Georgia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and the entire New York metro area. This means that California’s rules actually cover 135 million people, more than 40 percent of the U.S. population.
California would also likely prevail if anybody tries to revoke its special authority to regulate toxic air pollutants. The EPA has granted California its waiver for conventional pollutants for four decades, across all parties and presidents. To deny it now would seem capricious in the extreme.
The absence of waiver could spell catastrophe for California’s climate policy, which is one of the most aggressive and technologically important in the developed world.
The Clean Air Act provides no mechanism for the EPA to ever revoke a waiver. He would more or less be identifying a new power in an old law specifically to attack a state’s sovereignty, experts said.“People aren’t going to stop driving. And transportation’s 40 percent of carbon emissions need to go down. The only way to get those emissions down is to get fuel/mileage up. If there is a pressure to take their foot off the gas—and to fight the states who are doing it—it could be a huge setback,” One expert said
If California doesn’t get its waiver, it will harm fuel efficiency as far as two decades from now. And that will only intensify climate change. The carbon emissions from all those cars will stay in the air for centuries to come, long after most “new establishment/era” policies are forgotten.
These are excerpts of a wonderful article from The Atlantic