[JURIST] The US Senate Environment and Public Works Committee [official website] voted [press release] 10-9 Wednesday to overturn a decision by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) [official website] that rejected California's request for a waiver [JURIST news archive] allowing the state to impose stricter greenhouse gas emissions standards on cars and light duty trucks. Bill sponsor Barbara Boxer (D-CA) [personal website] told journalists that she would not press for full Senate consideration of the bill, because she expected President George W. Bush to veto it, but said in a statement that the panel's decision "brings us one step closer to giving a green light to California and the other states so they can begin tackling global warming pollution from vehicles." AP has more.
The California standards would have required car manufacturers to cut emissions by 25 percent for cars and light trucks, and 18 percent for 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. On Monday, a Majority Staff report [PDF text; JURIST report] by the US House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform [official website] suggested that the White House had played a "significant role" in the EPA decision to deny the waiver.