Obama gives California, other states right to adopt tougher air standards

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 air pollution regulations previously but were turned down 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 that 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.

'A historic win'

In California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said on Jan. 26 that 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. 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," it said in a Jan. 26 statement.

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 increased 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 eight years. 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," said Daniel J. Weiss, a senior fellow and climate strategy director at the Center for American Progress.

Thomas J. Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research, said that 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 nicks@pennwell.com

Related Articles

DOI proposes Arctic-specific drilling regulations for Alaska OCS

02/20/2015 The US Department of the Interior proposed regulations to ensure that oil and gas exploration on the US Arctic Continental Shelf occur safely and r...

More pragmatism urged for developing Eastern Mediterranean gas

02/20/2015 Eastern Mediterranean nations should abandon inflated expectations and adopt more realistic approaches to developing their natural gas resources, s...

Murkowski, Heitkamp lead Senate call for crude exports to Mexico

02/18/2015 US Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alas.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) led a coalition asking US Sec. of Commerce Penny Pritzker in a Feb. 18 letter to encour...

Pemex cuts budget by $4 billion

02/18/2015 The board of Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) has approved a $4-billion budget reduction for 2015, an 11.5% decrease compared with the previous expendit...

US should rework Azerbaijan relations carefully, House panel told

02/18/2015 The US should pursue relations with Azerbaijan that recognize its strategic importance as an energy supplier to countries farther west but do not i...

Comments sought on Pinedale Anticline gas field noise report

02/18/2015 The US Bureau of Land Management’s Pinedale Anticline Project Office (PAPO) is seeking public comments on a 2014 acoustic noise report on sound lev...

Ohio Supreme Court rules against municipality in oil and gas case

02/17/2015 The Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the city of Munroe Falls cannot impose local drilling and zoning ordinances that conflict with Ohio state law reg...

Uganda taps Russian firm to build country’s first refinery

02/17/2015 The government of Uganda has selected a consortium led by Russia’s RT Global Resources, Moscow, as its first choice to construct the country’s firs...

Montana governor wants PHMSA to beef up pipeline enforcement in state

02/17/2015 Citing a Jan. 17 leak of 1,200 bbl of crude oil from a ruptured pipeline in eastern Montana, Gov. Steve Bullock (D) asked US Sec. of Transportation...
White Papers

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

Squeezing the Green: How to Cut Petroleum Downstream Costs and Optimize Processing Efficiencies with Enterprise Project Portfolio Management Solutions

As the downstream petroleum industry grapples with change in every sector and at every level, includin...
Sponsored by

7 Steps to Improve Oil & Gas Asset Decommissioning

Global competition and volatile markets are creating a challenging business climate for project based ...
Sponsored by

The impact of aging infrastructure in process manufacturing industries

Process manufacturing companies in the oil and gas, utilities, chemicals and natural resource industri...
Sponsored by

What is System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis?

This paper will explain some of the fundamentals of System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis and demonstrate...

Accurate Thermo-Fluid Simulation in Real Time Environments

The crux of any task undertaken in System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis is striking a balance between ti...
Available Webcasts


Prevention, Detection and Mitigation of pipeline leaks in the modern world

When Thu, Apr 30, 2015

Preventing, detecting and mitigating leaks or commodity releases from pipelines are a top priority for all pipeline companies. This presentation will look at various aspects related to preventing, detecting and mitigating pipeline commodity releases from a generic and conceptual point of view, while at the same time look at the variety of offerings available from Schneider Electric to meet some of the requirements associated with pipeline integrity management. 

register:WEBCAST



On Demand

Global LNG: Adjusting to New Realities

Fri, Mar 20, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s March 20, 2015, webcast will look at how global LNG trade will be affected over the next 12-24 months by falling crude oil prices and changing patterns and pressures of demand. Will US LNG production play a role in balancing markets? Or will it add to a growing global oversupply of LNG for markets remote from easier natural gas supply? Will new buyers with marginal credit, smaller requirements, or great need for flexibility begin to look attractive to suppliers? How will high-cost, mega-projects in Australia respond to new construction cost trends?

register:WEBCAST


US Midstream at a Crossroads

Fri, Mar 6, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s Mar. 6, 2015, webcast will focus on US midstream companies at an inflection point in their development in response to more than 6 years shale oil and gas production growth. Major infrastructure—gas plants, gathering systems, and takeaway pipelines—have been built. Major fractionation hubs have expanded. Given the radically changed pricing environment since mid-2014, where do processors go from here? What is the fate of large projects caught in mid-development? How to producers and processors cooperate to ensure a sustainable and profitable future? This event will serve to set the discussion table for the annual GPA Convention in San Antonio, Apr. 13-16, 2015.

This event is sponsored by Leidos Engineering.

register:WEBCAST


The Future of US Refining

Fri, Feb 6, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s Feb. 6, 2015, webcast will focus on the future of US refining as various forces this year conspire to pull the industry in different directions. Lower oil prices generally reduce feedstock costs, but they have also lowered refiners’ returns, as 2015 begins with refined products priced at lows not seen in years. If lower per-barrel crude prices dampen production of lighter crudes among shale plays, what will happen to refiners’ plans to export more barrels of lighter crudes? And as always, refiners will be affected by government regulations, particularly those that suppress demand, increase costs, or limit access to markets or supply.

register:WEBCAST


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