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EPA grants California request to regulate vehicle emissions

[JURIST] The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Tuesday granted permission [press release; waiver, PDF] to California to enforce its own greenhouse gas emissions standards. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson [official profile] said that "the decision puts law and science first," and reinforces an automaker-backed [AFP report] agreement on tighter national vehicle emissions standards announced [JURIST report] last month by US President Barack Obama [official profile]. Referring to the previous denial [text] of the waiver, Jackson said that Tuesday's decision marked a return to the "traditional legal interpretation of the Clean Air Act that has been applied consistently during the past 40 years." Granting the waiver allows California and 13 other states that have adopted California's standard to begin applying tighter restrictions to 2009 model year cars and light trucks, in advance of the 2012 national restrictions.

California has been seeking permission [EPA materials] from the EPA to set its own vehicle emission and greenhouse gas standards since 2005. The request was initially denied [letter, PDF] in December 2007, on the grounds that the regulations were aimed at addressing global climate change and that California was limited to "address[ing] pollution problems that are local or regional." The EPA reconsidered [JURIST report] California's request earlier this year after being directed [memorandum; JURIST report] by Obama to do so. In May 2008, a report by the US House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform found that the Bush White House had influenced the March 2008 decision and that the administration later refused to turn over requested documents [JURIST reports] concerning the decision to the committee, citing executive privilege.

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