Release 09-05
January 21, 2009

    Stanley Young
(916 )322-2990
(916) 956-9409

California Air Resources Board asks EPA to reconsider denial of waiver to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars


SACRAMENTO: Today, ARB Chairman Mary Nichols sent a letter to Lisa Jackson, the new designated Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), requesting that she revisit the decision by the previous EPA administrator that denied California the waiver it needs to enforce its clean car law.

“We feel strongly that under its new leadership, EPA will recognize that the decision made by the former administrator to deny California the waiver to enforce our clean car law was flawed, factually and legally, in fundamental ways,” said Nichols.

Should the EPA grant the waiver, California, and 13 other states will begin a program to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from passenger vehicles 30 percent by 2016.

The letter points out that the decision by the previous EPA administrator improperly evaluated California’s need for greenhouse gas standards in complete isolation, without also considering the context of California’s complete motor vehicle emission control program. This created a new set of hurdles and test that no other waiver request had triggered.

The letter also indicates that California believes that the EPA can reconsider its decision in a manner that fulfills its public notice and comment obligations without undue delay. This is because the issues to be reconsidered are limited in scope, and there has already been extensive comment input by stakeholders and the public on the waiver request.

The letter can be found at: /newsrel/arbwaiverrequest.pdf


The regulations in question were developed under California’s 2002 landmark vehicle greenhouse gas emissions reduction law AB 1493 (Pavley). ARB adopted the regulations in 2005.

In 2005, ARB requested a waiver from the EPA to enforce the regulation, as required under the Clean Air Act. Despite the fact that no waiver had ever been denied over a 40-year-period, the then Administrator of the EPA sent Governor Schwarzenegger a letter in December, 2007, indicating he had denied the waiver.

On March 6, 2008 the waiver denial was formally issued in the Federal Register.  Governor Schwarzenegger and several other states immediately filed suit against the federal government to reverse that decision.

To date, 13 states have also adopted, and three others are in the process of adopting, those same regulations. Together, California and these 16 states constitute close to half of the nation’s new vehicle sales.

The letter also indicates that since all manufacturers can already comply with California’s 2009 model-year greenhouse gas fleet average under the regulations, all manufacturers would obtain credits for future years. This would allow the regulations to be implemented as planned using the model-year 2009 to 2016 timetable.

The reductions achieved by the Pavley regulations constitute an important element of the California’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent by 2020 under its landmark global warming bill, AB 32 (Nunez, 2006). ARB approved the Scoping Plan in December. It is the nation’s first comprehensive approach to address climate change that draws upon ever sector of the state’s economy.

The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.