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Trump Administration Reviewing California's Ability to Require Clean Air

Thursday, July 20, 2017By Nina Shapirshteyn

As you look out over the San Francisco Bay you are impressed with the view. Most people only think of the San Francisco Bay as the Golden Gate Bridge, but you love the view across the south bay the best. The little bridges across the Bay and the Oakland hills serve as a backdrop. They are especially pretty this time of year—bright green and a periwinkle blue sky.

Your gaze drifts south and the view becomes a little more hazy. It’s hard to tell on days like today, is that smog or just late fog in the valley? And as you turn west, the Pacific Ocean stretches out as far as the eye can see. Breathtaking. You look into the backseat and see your daughter soaking in the view as well and you smile.

You used to hike these trails with her, but her asthma has gotten so bad you can only do short walks these days. You were so excited to be able to buy a house, but the decision has become a bitter pill. You thought it was the noise you had to worry about being so near to the freeway and the loading docks with the trucks loading all night, but you didn’t think about the exhaust those trucks were emitting. You are so sad that your ignorance has cost your sweet girl so much.

California was on the verge of making occurrences like this a thing of the past by implementing new emission standards for diesel trucks and heavy equipment. Not surprisingly, the businesses that would be regulated by the new rules took the decision to court. But instead of suing California over the rule, they are suing the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over California’s ability to make rules that are more stringent than those required across the rest of the country.

Since inception of the Clean Air Act, California has operated under a waiver that allowed it to pass regulations that are more stringent than federal standards. This has led to vast improvements in air quality nationwide as national manufacturers have often simply met the California standard rather than varying products or processes for multiple markets. The case went all the way to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the EPA vigorously defending California's right to retain its stricter standards.

On the verge of oral arguments at the Ninth Circuit the EPA and DOJ moved to delay argument so that DOJ could assess the lawsuit in light of the new presidential administration. The administration has made it no secret that it is moving in a pro-business, anti-regulatory direction. What that means is that it may no longer defend this suit vigorously, thus paving the way for a change in how the EPA approaches California’s clean air rules and leading to a higher hurdle for California to meet in setting its clean air standards.

If you or a family member has been harmed by adverse environmental conditions, contact us at the Alexander Law Group, LLP or call 888.777.1776. We believe that wrongdoers should be held accountable when they hurt others. All calls are free and confidential.

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