Jan 25, 2009

Existing emission standards – another barrier to change

A key barrier to innovation and change are existing regulations. Changing regulations to lead to a sustainable society can be an uphill battle. The automotive industry in the US has been lobbying hard to avoid new regulations and standards for higher fuel efficiency and cleaner emissions, and had the support of former President George Bush. But this is about to change.

According to the New York Times today, President Obama will direct federal regulators on Monday to move swiftly on an application by California and 13 other states to set strict automobile emission and fuel efficiency standards, two administration officials said Sunday evening.

The directive makes good on an Obama campaign pledge and signifies a sharp reversal of Bush administration policy. Granting California and the other states the right to regulate tailpipe emissions would be one of the most emphatic actions Mr. Obama could take to quickly put his stamp on environmental policy.

Mr. Obama is expected to direct the Environmental Protection Agency to begin work immediately on granting California a waiver, under the Clean Air Act, which allows the state, a longtime leader in air quality matters, to set standards for automobile emissions stricter than the national rules.

This is likely to be the first of a many initiatives by the Obama admisitration on climate change. Stay tuned.

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