EPA targets California over poor air quality, rules backlog
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Trump administration on Tuesday blamed California’s worst-inthe nation air quality on shoddy paperwork, calling on the state to overhaul its plans for cleaning up toxic smog or risk losing billions in federal road dollars.
The government’s warning comes days after the Trump administration moved to block the state’s emission standards for cars and trucks, a move that would eliminate California’s most important weapon for combating its biggest source of pollution.
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.
“It makes no sense,” said Gay MacGregor, a former senior policy adviser for the EPA Office of Transportation and Air Quality from 1983 until 2016. “What they are doing today is basically punishing California for EPA’s own inaction.”
The federal government sets rules for pollution. Lots of places in the country don’t meet those standards. But no state has more problems than California, where 85% of the population — 34 million people — breathe dirty air.
Federal law requires states to come up with a plan on how to reduce pollution. Those plans must be approved by the EPA. The federal agency has a backlog of these plans awaiting approval, and California accounts for about one-third of the total.
The EPA says it plans to issue $40 million in grants to help areas around the country meet federal air quality standards.
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