For years, California has been able to act in defiance of federal standards because the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has given them a waiver to do so. Today, EPA revoked that waiver, signaling that California will no longer be able to unilaterally intimidate companies into creating special standards that are not warranted by evidence.

Opponents are spinning this as denial of science but EPA also signaled this week that they are going to create standards to eliminate animal testing for products, so clearly they are thinking about the world of 2019 as it really exists, and that includes recognizing that California has used a waiver it got from the Obama administration (and others as far back as Nixon) to place itself as the chief antagonist to the Trump administration rather than improving the lives of its citizens.

To-date, California's different emissions standards from EPA have not saved a single life, not during the entire existence of EPA, but have added tens of billions in dollars in costs to the public, which overwhelmingly impacts the poor. It's latest waiver allowed them to force companies to sell more electric cars,  but it cannot force people to pay full price for them.(1) Poor people are not going to end up getting the fire sale on electric cars that will happen in order to meet a capricious sales target invented by a state government, rich people will.

If California emissions standards save lives, why didn't EPA adopt them?

California Governor Gavin Newsom, an avowed hater of Preisdent Trump, said of EPA removing its waiver, “It’s a move that could have devastating consequences for our kids’ health and the air we breathe if California were to roll over,” without providing any specifics on how different mortality is because you can't buy a car in Wyoming and get it registered in California. 

As a Californian with kids I am as concerned as anyone but as a critical thinker I have to ask that awkward four word question sympathetic journalists at the Los Angeles Times will not; where are the bodies? California has no fewer deaths than Republican states which did not take up their arbitrary standards. 

Our state has no less asthma. It still has worse air quality in southern California, as you can see in yellow, but it's not bad, especially not compared to the past, and that is a function of geography and having a whole lot of people living in a valley were air is often static.

To put our air quality in context, here is the world:

California has the same air quality as Siberia, where few even live. As does the rest of the U.S. That is not a function of California having arbitrary rules for cars, it is a function of EPA. The same EPA that Governor Newsom and former career Democrats in EPA now contend was irrelevant, and that California standards are needed to save us all.

But car targets are already at 37 miles per gallon, raising them to 50, as California wants done, results in more emissions. New cars are too expensive so poor people with older, less efficient cars will keep them. 

Former EPA officials say California is better than EPA, yet they were there from 1978 on and never convinced EPA scientists that was true

Below is a statement sent to me by a group of former EPA officials(2) and if you read it, you see some of them make no sense. Janet McCabe, for example, now claims EPA - her federal body - always deferred to states, which means California did not need a waiver at all. Why does EPA even exist if EPA is subordinate to states? Is the IRS subordinate to California's tax collection also? 

Jeff Alson claims that California's standard is the only thing stopping global warming. So, again, EPA has been useless all this time despite the entire country having terrific air quality? Only mandating electric cars will save us? 

Dr. Trish Koman is unwilling to even mention California so she says her concern is about climate change, which would be fine if it were true that California's standards made any difference. China is the runaway leader in greenhouse gas emissions and a search finds that while she was part of the Obama administration there was not a single instance where she criticized his obsequiousness to the communist dictatorship belching so much pollution that CO2 levels continue to rise even as the American energy sector caused them to decline to where by 2017 they had met the standards that the Clean Power Plan mandated by 2025 - had the Supreme Court not struck it down as unconstitutional, anyway.

Gay MacGregor is the only one making a valid point, that this will impact the other Democratic states that use the same standard as California. 

But so what? If other states enact the same labeling policy as Vermont when it comes to organic pesticides (no labels) and GMOs (labels), it will make no difference in human health. It would just be political. That is not to say there should be no standards but defining deviancy down in a race for perfection has a cost, and that costs is overwhelmingly borne by the poor who have already been disenfranchised by Sacramento.

By the 1970s, Los Angeles had a great deal of smog so when EPA was created the state already had emissions rules, even if they were unenforceable. Just like with GMO warning labels or marriages, the federal government does not want 50 patchwork laws but California had created a greater pollution problem than most of the country so EPA gave them a waiver to fix it. Thus they created two standards, a federal one and a California one. The EPA one was based on science and California's was based on, eventually, California Air Resources Board estimates, which have been shown to not only be fraudulent on occasion, but exaggerated by 340 percent.(3)

Cooking a hamburger is worse for the air than driving an 18-wheeler, according to California 

If you trust California the way former EPA Democrats now say they do, we could just tell restaurants to cook 10 fewer hamburgers per day and that would wipe out the impact of diesel trucks and cargo ships and cars in the state. I am not kidding, the South Coast Air Quality Management District used that data as a reason to charge higher taxes on fast food with a straight face.

This is the supposed science leadership at California Air Resources Board that former EPA officials now claim should be the standard for the whole country.

But what really set off EPA seems to be California hammering out a deal with automakers individually. I don't blame car companies, they like regulatory certainty even if it costs them money. But California citizens do not benefit from higher costs, nor do they benefit from holding companies hostage by charging special levies on energy companies while then subsidizing solar panels and forcing companies to charge people without them higher utility costs.

Solar panels in Malibu funded by poor people in Compton are a feel-good fallacy for wealthy elites but also the kind of policy that has obliterated the middle class in this state.


(1) And California buys much of its energy from other states, overwhelmingly fossil fuels, so all Californians are paying more so that electric cars can place more load on a grid that California regulates so heavily its cheaper for energy companies to go bankrupt than to be micromanaged about every repair and then blamed if a line goes down in the wilderness and starts a fire.


Janet McCabe, Former Acting Assistant Administrator, EPA Office of Air and Radiation (2009-2017) - "Though the EPA talks about how it partners with—and even defers to—states to implement the Clean Air Act, the decision to revoke California’s legal authority to set its own car emissions standards demonstrates that this collaborative spirit only extends to states that agree with the Trump Administration. For decades, California has had the right to set tailpipe standards that exceed federal standards to meet the needs of its residents. This arrangement has benefited Americans by encouraging automakers to produce vehicles that cost less at the pump and pollute less at the tailpipe. Revoking California’s authority in this matter is a step away from cleaner, more efficient vehicles and a step toward making the US auto industry less competitive in the global market."

Gay MacGregor. Former Senior Policy Advisor, EPA Office of Transportation and Air Quality (1983-2017) - “This isn’t just about California. It’s about taking away the authority of not only CA but Washington, DC and the 13 other states that use CA standards to protect their citizens from the impacts of climate change and the increased air pollution the Trump EPA weaker standards will cause. Apparently, states’ rights don't apply when it comes to clean air. It’s sad because clean air has been largely a bipartisan effort. This administration is systematically destroying that legacy.”

Jeff Alson, Former Senior Engineer and Policy Advisor, EPA Office of Transportation and Air Quality (1978-2018) - "President Trump, the world's leading climate denier, is stopping California and other states from protecting their citizens from the climate crisis. EPA granted a waiver to California allowing it to set its own car GHG standards in 2013, based on authority that California has had for 50 years under the Clean Air Act, and nothing has changed in the last six years except that the impacts of the climate crisis are more obvious. EPA has never revoked any of the 50+ waivers that it has granted to California and there is no legal basis for doing so. If the courts allow this unprecedented reversal, and the Trump EPA massively rolls back the federal Clean Car Standards, then President Trump will have done more to destroy the planet than any other president in history."

Trish Koman, MPP, PhD. Former Senior Environmental Scientist, EPA Office of Transportation and Air Quality (1991-2012) - "The effort to restrict states' rights to safeguard public health is not consistent with the scientific consensus. Climate change poses grave threats to public health. The changing climate threatens the health of Americans alive now and that of future generations. Growing evidence clearly demonstrates that climate change amplifies multiple and profound risks to public health for all Americans, from extreme heat events to hurricanes to winter storms to wildfires to air pollution. Millions of Americans suffer greater vulnerability to these threats. These negative health impacts especially among vulnerable groups are why major public health and medical groups across the country oppose these misguided policies."

Mustafa Santiago Ali. Former EPA Senior Advisor for Environmental Justice and Community Revitalization, and Assistant Associate Administrator for Environmental Justice (1993-2017) - “President Trump and Administrator Andrew Wheeler continue to put the cross-hairs of fossil fuel pollution on our most vulnerable communities. By revoking the CA waiver on auto emissions, they will be increasing air pollution in communities of color and low income communities who are already overburdened by toxics. These are the same communities who have been asking for stronger environmental regulations because they are literally dying for a breath of clean air. As the Trump Administration continues to dismantle and roll back basic air protections, they are sending a clear message that in our country you get as much justice/protection as you can afford. That’s why the fossil fuel industry continues to support these types of actions and the communities continue to be unseen, unheard and left to deal with the health impacts in their communities by the deadly decision making of this administration.”

Dan Reich, Former Trial Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice (1984-1990); former Assistant Regional Counsel, EPA Region 9, San Francisco (1990-2017) - "The goal of the regulated community was for the federal and state governments to come to an agreement so that auto manufacturers would have one set of uniform standards to meet with regard to emissions from light duty vehicles. I believe the story should be that the industry (four auto manufacturers) have come forward to broker that deal...and they have. They have worked out a voluntary agreement that is less stringent than the Obama regulations and they got California to sign on. What a perfect set up for the Trump Administration to declare victory...convert the deal into a regulation and everyone is happy. Instead, the Trump Administration decides to revoke the CA waiver granted in 2013 and file questionable antitrust charges against the companies who helped solve the problem. That is not the "art of the deal." It is a recipe for litigation through 2020 and continued uncertainty for the auto manufacturers who are trying to plan for what cars they will sell."

(3) "I can't answer that for you," was the only response Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board, offered for their 340% diesel emissions miscalculation, before assuring us that everything else CARB did was really, really accurate.

Air board member Ron Roberts conceded, "One of the hardest things about being on the board is separating fact from political fancy."

He clearly didn't know that kind of scientific wobble was exactly what career EPA bureaucrats were trying to achieve all along.