EPA tar­gets Cal­i­for­nia over poor air qual­ity, rules back­log

The Morning Call - - NATION & WORLD -

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.


Po­lice fire tear gas and wa­ter can­nons Tues­day to dis­perse thou­sands of rock-throw­ing stu­dents protest­ing a new law they say has crip­pled In­done­sia’s anti-cor­rup­tion agency. The protests have grown over the past two days and turned vi­o­lent in some cities.

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