Replacement EPA Boss on Board With California Gas Confab

Following Andrew Wheeler’s appointment as acting head of the Environmental Protection Agency, he extended an invitation to the California Air Resources Board to discuss emission regulations — a matter which former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt seemed less inclined to discuss with the state.

Mary Nichols, chairman of the board, said Wheeler reached out to state officials and the pair agreed to hold a meeting in Washington. It’s a slight easing of tensions in the cold war between D.C. and Sacramento.

Initially, the EPA hoped to convince California to compromise so the current administration could progress with its deregulation strategy for the automotive industry. However, California has drawn a bold line when it comes to rolling back the corporate fuel economy mandates passed under President Obama. Pruitt claimed the existing targets were unreasonably high after the Trump administration requested a revaluation of the standards.

Since then, the Golden State and its Air Resources Board have retaliated by filing a lawsuit claiming the EPA’s decision to roll back fuel economy targets was irresponsible. In the aftermath, Nichols noted that the agency seemed less inclined to make time for meetings with her organization. It even cancelled discussions the President said had to take place — as Pruitt was busy saying the state should forget about being able to make demands the rest of the country has to adhere to.

The White House is currently reviewing proposals from the EPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that will roll back the rigorous fuel economy and emissions standards set for the coming years. Those documents are also said to include ways to circumvent California’s authority to set vehicle efficiency rules, which are tougher than the federal government’s.

While Wheeler is expected to be less overtly prickly than Pruitt, few expect him to deviate from the initial plan. Most feel he’ll stay the course while taking a more pragmatic approach. At the very least, he seems willing to speak with California.

“I am not at the moment expecting any changes in direction or changes in policy,” Nichols said. “But I hear from others who know him he is a practical person who likes to move forward and is willing to make compromises, so I am hopeful that we’ll find some things to work on together.”

[Source: Bloomberg]

a version of this article first appeared on thetruthaboutcars.com

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