Senator Calls for Probe Into EPA Actions Against California

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein on Friday called for a probe into whether a Trump administration threat earlier this week to withhold transportation funding from California over claims of poor air quality was politically driven.

On Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler sent a letter to California’s top air regulator saying the state “has failed to carry out its most basic tasks under the Clean Air Act,” and not produced timely plans to meet targets for ambient air quality goals, and threatened to withhold over $4 billion in federal highway funding.

The letter was yet another flashpoint in a series of recent conflicts between California and the Trump administration over the state’s defense of its own stricter clean air and water rules, such as their tighter vehicle emission standards that are followed by more than a dozen states.

“I am concerned that California is being unfairly targeted, and that this issue of backlogged state implementation plans is nothing more than a pretext to attack California, rather than a good-faith effort to help improve California’s air quality,” Feinstein said in her letter to Charles Sheehan, deputy inspector general of the EPA.

California had imposed strict state limits on vehicle emissions in defiance of Trump’s attempts to roll back federal clean car regulations. Those tailpipe emissions are regulated separately from ambient air pollutants, but California argues the vehicle rules are essential to meeting those goals.

After four major automakers struck a voluntary deal earlier this month to adopt California’s emissions standards over weaker EPA standards, the Justice Department opened a probe in the matter. President Donald Trump said he would revoke California’s legal authority to set more stringent standards.

The Trump administration this year also withheld $929 million from California’s high-speed rail project awarded in 2010, prompting the state to sue.

And on Thursday, EPA’s Wheeler accused California of violating clean water laws by allowing human waste from homeless residents to enter waterways.

Feinstein disputed that backlogged state implementation plans were due to California inaction. She cited one example where a state plan was awaiting EPA approval, and another where the state still had one year to comply.

She asked the inspector general to investigate whether over three dozen states with similar issues are being targeted.

“There are no reports suggesting that any of those other states received a threat like the one sent to California to their transportation funding,” the letter said.

Feinstein said by withholding highway funds, the EPA would deprive California one of its biggest tools to improve its air quality.

(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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Screwtape
Member

James,

CA and SF were still pleasant and liveable place during the 80s, albeit insanely expensive places to live or own a home. I saw the writing on the wall and got the hell out.

Screwtape
Member

Joyce,

Just as it abandoned a state paid single-payer system, the Dims party (which runs the state) faced this hard reality.

If they REALLY wanted to stop emissions they could do so by banning the use of gas and diesel. Even they have the brains to realize that that will ruin the state’s economy and, worst of all, they might be voted out of office as a result. That loss of power is what scares them the most.

Trump is not strong-arming them. He’s working within the principles of the federal and legal systems via pre-emption.

Joyce
Member

The EPA refuses California’s tight emissions standards while complaining about California’s air quality. They should decide whether we can have low standards AND clean air at the same time. Trump appoints administrators like Andrew Wheeler who are obedient lapdogs. Why should we expect logic from Trump or his puppets? Much as he withheld military aid from Ukraine in order to apply political pressure, he withheld $929 million allocated to California for light rail. He didn’t have to say, “You’ve got a nice state (or country) there. It would be a shame if something happened to it.” It was implied. The… Read more »

Michael
Member

This makes me laugh: “And on Thursday, EPA’s Wheeler accused California of violating clean water laws by allowing human waste from homeless residents to enter waterways.”

Is this something Trump said that his admin is now bending over backwards to act like it is true with the goal of massaging his ego? Or is it just that Wheeler is another know nothing, incompetent appointee?

San Francisco was smelly last time I visited, but homeless waste fouling the waters?!?!?

Screwtape
Member

WHC, CA was a beatiful state, Past tense. Now the cities are open-air asylums. The inland is rife with crime, drugs, and poverty. It’s not the weather. Consider that Portland and Seattle also have huge homeless populations. Neither is known for good weather in winter. It’s the programs and the bad policies enacted by the politicians. Note that the neighboring cities just south of SF, Daly City, etc. DO NOT have the same homeless issues because their leadership/citizens will not tolerate it. Sorry to hear about your SF “Homeless Experience” (that sounds like a Disney ride). Flight from the city… Read more »

Screwtape
Member

James,

“California is the poster child for Third World Sh**holes – because they have the ingredients . . . .”

Recipe for disaster:
Lots of money thrown at “solutions” that do not work. (like one-way bus tickets)
Over-regulation and NIMBYISM that eliminate affordable housing.
Liberally dose with idiot politicians.

Screwtape
Member

WHC:

“Also fun fact: the wild fires in the LA suburbs last summer were due to homeless camps.”

We’ve had similar problems in local parks, alongside bike trails, and next to highway off-ramps. At least until the rains started.

WellHungChad
Member

Visited SF for my first time a couple years ago. In all, a beautiful city…that I could never live in! …and will SOON be a poster child for US slums! Walking from the BART station up Powell St. to Union Square was like walking through a sewer, the stench was so bad!!! Homeless were everywhere! The restaurant we ate at said the homeless situation was so bad, they had to install combination coded locks on their bathrooms. They were considering relocating. The Starbucks my son bought his coffee at wouldn’t let me use the bathroom until he asked for the… Read more »

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