California Fights EPA, Silicon Valley Aims At Detroit

California filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency yesterday, seeking to force the agency to grant it a waiver so that it can enforce its own emissions standards. The Golden State plans to cut emissions back to 1990 levels by 2020 — a 25 percent reduction from current levels — and 16 other states either have adopted or plan to adopt California’s standards. Many of those same states — 14 in total — plan on joining California’s lawsuit as well. All of these states combined represent nearly half of the nation’s new car sales.

In a deranged bit of politicking, the Bush Administration’s “Fourth Climate Action Report” has an entire subsection enumerating the noble efforts of individual states, including California, to put into place their own programs “that contribute to the overall GHG intensity reduction goal,” NRDC Policy Director David Doinger points out.

Governor Schwarzenegger has said that “California is ready to implement the nation’s cleanest standards for vehicle emissions, but we cannot do that until the federal government grants a waiver allowing us to enforce those standards.” The lawsuit claims that the EPA “has unreasonably delayed action on the requested waiver.” Schwarzenegger added that he is prepared to “sue again, and sue again, and sue again until we get it.”

As California leads the way through the legal fight, Silicon Valley is gearing up to solidify itself as the Detroit of electric vehicles. Shai Agassi, having just raised $200 million for his EV venture, told The Mercury News that while “Detroit is a car manufacturing center” electric vehicle design “is not something that can be done in a normal way…It needs an Internet approach, a Google approach.” Meanwhile,
Californian electric car companies continue to collect celebrity drivers.

The latest word from the EPA is that the agency plans on making a decision by the end of December. Something tells me the Governator is not a patient man.

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