[JURIST] The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) [official website] Wednesday rejected [press release] California's request for a waiver that would have allowed it and 16 other states following its lead to impose stricter greenhouse gas emissions standards on cars and light trucks. EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson told reporters that the White House prefers a single unified national standard to a state-by-state network of regulations, and pointed to the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 [HR 6 materials; WH fact sheet], signed into law Wednesday by President George W. Bush. The act will require automakers to reach an industry-wide average fuel efficiency for cars, SUVs and small trucks of 35 miles per gallon by 2020. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said California will appeal the decision [statement text].
Last month, California filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF; JURIST report] in the US District Court for the District of Columbia against the EPA in an effort to force it to come to a decision on whether California could impose the stricter standards. The California standards would have required car manufacturers to cut emissions by 25 percent from cars and light trucks, and 18 percent from SUVs, starting with the 2009 model year. California's Air Resources Board [official website] adopted the greenhouse gas standards in 2004 [press release], but it could not mandate them unless the EPA granted a waiver of the lighter Federal Clean Air Act (CAA) [text] standards. California is the only state permitted to seek a waiver under the CAA, but if granted, other states have the option of choosing between the federal standards and those of California. At least 11 states had indicated that they would follow the California standard. This is the first time that the EPA has denied California a waiver since Congress established the state's right to seek CAA waivers in 1967. AP has more.