The Environmental Protection Agency has threatened to take away billions of dollars in federal highway funding for California if it doesn't improve its plans to address air pollution - the latest battle in the war between the Trump administration and the state.
Tuesday's announcement by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler chastised California for its backlog of pending rules and regulations to reduce pollution in areas that do not meet federal air quality standards.
'EPA stands ready to work with California to meet the Trump Administration's goal of clean, healthy air for all Americans, and we hope the state will work with us in good faith'.
Wheeler warned that if California fails to withdraw its "backlogged and unapprovable" studies and work with the EPA to develop full ones, the administration might hand down sanctions that might imply cuts to freeway funding and permit the federal authorities to develop its personal plans. Newsom also criticized Trump for threatening auto companies that negotiate with California.
Last week, CARB Chairwoman Nichols said that the Trump Administration is only making things worse, especially with its latest moves on California's waiver and any upcoming rollback of CAFE.
"I'm sick of this President taking swipes at our city for no reason other than politics", Breed said. When President Donald Trump entered office, the administration faced a backlog of over 700 reports, and roughly 140 of those that remain are from California, Wheeler said in an interview.
During a fundraising trip to California last week, the president portrayed the homeless as harmful to the state: "If these Democrat liberal politicians don't straighten it out, the federal government will have to come in". Since then, 13 other states have adopted California's higher emission standards.
The Trump administration has been sued by California 29 times over its environmental policies
"Many people's lives, many people's health is going to be at risk because of the freezing of the emissions waiver, which is a direct attack on California's authority", said Chris Chavez, the deputy policy director for the Coalition for Clean Air, a California-based environmentalist nonprofit group. "So, we will be communicating with states across the country on this front".
The federal government mandates how much pollution can be in the air.
"That's not the correct perspective here", the official said, adding, "This is related to California's continued inability to carry out basic tasks under the Clean Air Act".
The law says that if a state hasn't submitted a new plan or corrected existing ones within 18 months after the finding, the administrator can block the state from receiving federal money for transportation projects, including those aiming to reduce pollution from vehicles. Many of California's stalled plans are inactive, lack essential information or are otherwise unapprovable, Wheeler said in his letter.
While the EPA's latest move stated in the letter is not directly related to the fight over fuel efficiency standards, the administration is making an argument that could supplement its legal defense: that California has failed to uphold standards for pollutants other than greenhouse gases.
On a call with reporters this morning, a senior EPA official pushed back on the notion that today's action fit into a pattern of hostility toward California.