California, other states to set own air standards

Nick Snow
Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Jan. 26 -- US President Barack H. Obama signed memorandums on Jan. 26 granting California and other states the right to raise air quality standards above the national level and ordering the Department of Transportation to establish higher fuel efficiency requirements for automakers in the 2011 model year.

The states had asked for authority to adopt more-stringent antipollution regulations previously but were rebuffed by the Bush administration, Obama noted. "Instead of serving as a partner, Washington stood in their way. The days of Washington dragging its heels are over," he said.

The president called the memorandums "a down payment on a broader and sustained effort to reduce our dependence on crude oil." Two California Democrats who chair congressional committees related to energy and the environment immediately applauded the action.

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer called it "more than welcome news." She said the states seeking the federal regulatory waiver represent more than half the total US population, and that she would work closely with Lisa P. Jackson, the new Environmental Protection Agency administrator, to make certain the California waiver moves forward quickly.

"This is a tremendous and long overdue step for energy independence and the environment. President Obama is taking the nation in a decisive new direction that will receive broad support across the country," noted Henry A. Waxman, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Regulatory patchwork
In California on Jan. 26, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he also hoped federal regulators would move quickly on the matter. "With this announcement from President Obama less than a week into his administration, it is clear that California and the environment now have a strong ally in the White House. Allowing California and other states to aggressively reduce their own harmful tailpipe emissions would be a historic win for clean air and for millions of Americans who want more fuel-efficient, environmentally friendly cars," he said.

The American Petroleum Institute immediately criticized Obama's action on the states' request for a federal regulatory waiver. "Creating a patchwork regulatory structure across multiple states would most likely impose higher costs on consumers, slow economic growth, and kill US jobs," it said in a Jan. 26 statement.

"The oil and natural gas industry already is doing its part: Since 2000, it has invested $42 billion into zero and low-carbon research and development. That's 45% of all such spending by US companies and the federal government combined," API continued.

Environmental organizations applauded Obama's move. "For too long, Washington has taken a back seat to California, 13 other states, and the District of Columbia that have long understood the solution to global warming and job creation are one and the same. This action will help the entire country benefit from their foresight," said Steven Biel, global warming campaign director at Greenpeace.

"Giving states the power to regulate tailpipe emissions and moving forward on a national increase in fuel efficiency are the bold and necessary moves we expected from President Obama, who campaigned on the issue of fuel efficiency and global warming. These moves, coupled with investments to double renewable energy generation, improve our power grid and increase home energy efficiency, will create jobs and lessen our dependence on fossil fuels," said Gene Kapinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters.

Other groups' reactions were mixed. "President Obama has done more in one week to reduce oil dependence and fight global warming than President [George W.] Bush did in 8 years," said Daniel J. Weiss, a senior fellow and climate strategy director at the Center for American Progress. "His actions today respond to scientists' urgent warnings to reduce global warming pollution now before it's too late. These fuel economy measures come on top of $90 billion of clean energy investments in his economic recovery package," Weiss added.

Thomas J. Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research, said the California Air Resources Board has estimated that its proposed automobile emissions standards would add at least $1,050 to the cost of each car. "Few states depend more on others for energy than California. Few states ask their citizens to pay more for their electricity. Today's announcement ensures that working class Californians also will have a harder time affording cars in the future," he said.

Contact Nick Snow at

Related Articles

WOTUS rule implementation uncertain after conflicting court decisions

08/28/2015 The US Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers reportedly began to implement their controversial Waters of the United States (W...

Keystone XL decision isn’t imminent, White House press secretary says

08/28/2015 A presidential decision on TransCanada Corp.’s cross-border permit application for its proposed Keystone XL crude oil pipeline is not imminent, Whi...

Extension sought for Mackenzie Gas Project

08/28/2015 The earliest possible construction start for the Mackenzie Gas Project, which would connect natural gas fields in the Canadian Arctic with northwes...

Tap Oil signs PSC for block offshore Myanmar

08/28/2015 Tap Oil Ltd. reported its entry into Myanmar following the signing of the production-sharing contract for shallow-water Block M-7 in the Moattama b...

EIA: US oil, gas supply less vulnerable to hurricanes in 2015

08/28/2015 A relatively light hurricane season anticipated for 2015 and an overall decline in the Gulf of Mexico’s share of US crude oil and natural gas produ...

Rosneft, Egas sign master LNG supply, purchase deal


Rosneft Group unit Rosneft Trading SA and Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Co. (Egas) have signed a master LNG supply and purchase agreement.

MARKET WATCH: NYMEX, Brent crude oil prices both surge in one-day rally

08/28/2015 The crude oil price for October delivery settled up nearly $4/bbl on the New York market Aug. 27, marking its biggest single-day gain in more than ...

PetroChina reports first half results


PetroChina Co. Ltd. reported first-half increases in output of crude, natural gas, and refined products compared with a year earlier.

BLM brings its Master Leasing Plan concept to Utah

08/27/2015 The US Bureau of Land Management’s Moab, Utah, field office began a 90-day comment period on Aug. 21 for a draft proposed Master Leasing Plan for 9...
White Papers

UAS Integration for Infrastructure: More than Just Flying

Oil and gas companies recognize the benefits that the use of drones or unmanned aerial systems (UAS) c...

Solutions to Financial Distress Resulting from a Weak Oil and Gas Price Environment

The oil and gas industry is in the midst of a prolonged worldwide downturn in commodity prices. While ...
Sponsored by

2015 Global Engineering Information Management Solutions Competitive Strategy Innovation and Leadership Award

The Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards recognise companies in a variety of regional and global...
Sponsored by

Three Tips to Improve Safety in the Oil Field

Working oil fields will always be tough work with inherent risks. There’s no getting around that. Ther...
Sponsored by

Pipeline Integrity: Best Practices to Prevent, Detect, and Mitigate Commodity Releases

Commodity releases can have catastrophic consequences, so ensuring pipeline integrity is crucial for p...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by

Asset Decommissioning in Oil & Gas: Transforming Business

Asset intensive organizations like Oil and Gas have their own industry specific challenges when it com...
Sponsored by
Available Webcasts

Operating a Sustainable Oil & Gas Supply Chain in North America

When Tue, Oct 20, 2015

Short lead times and unpredictable conditions in the Oil & Gas industry can create costly challenges in supply chains. By implementing a LEAN culture of continuous improvement you can eliminate waste, increase productivity and gain end-to-end visibility leading to a sustainable and well-oiled supply chain.

Please join us for this webcast sponsored by Ryder System, Inc.


On Demand

Leveraging technology to improve safety & reliability

Tue, Sep 22, 2015

Attend this informative webinar to learn more about how to leverage technology to meet the new OSHA standards and protect your employees from the hazards of arc flash explosions.


The Resilient Oilfield in the Internet of Things World

Tue, Sep 22, 2015

As we hear about the hype surrounding the Internet of Things, the oil and gas industry is questioning what is different than what is already being done. What is new?  Using sensors and connecting devices is nothing new to our mode of business and in many ways the industry exemplifies many principles of an industrial internet of things. How does the Internet of Things impact the oil and gas industry?

Prolific instrumentation and automation digitized the industry and has changed the approach to business models calling for a systems led approach.  Resilient Systems have the ability to adapt to changing circumstances while maintaining their central purpose.  A resilient system, such as Maximo, allows an asset intensive organization to leverage connected devices by merging real-time asset information with other critical asset information and using that information to create a more agile organization.  

Join this webcast, sponsored by IBM, to learn how about Internet of Things capabilities and resilient systems are impacting the landscape of the oil and gas industry.


Taking the Headache out of Fuel License and Exemption Certificates: How to Ensure Compliance

Tue, Aug 25, 2015

This webinar, brought to you by Avalara, will detail the challenges of tax document management, as well as recommend solutions for fuel suppliers. You will learn:

-    Why it’s critical to track business partner licenses and exemption documents
-    The four key business challenges of ensuring tax compliance through document management
-    Best practice business processes to minimize exposure to tax errors


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!


Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected