California Democrats are talking smack again. This time, their target is Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, President Trump’s pick for EPA.
According to a Los Angeles Times story, Pruitt said at a contentious confirmation hearing last Wednesday that he cannot commit to keeping in place the current version of a decades-old federal waiver that allows California to set emissions standards stricter than elsewhere in the United States.
And California Democrat politicians have threatened to step up their resistance.
In the same story, California Senate President Kevin de León vowed that if Pruitt dares exercise his legitimate authority and rescind the waiver, “He will be met with full resistance up and down the state.”
What exactly did Pruitt say to set them off?
“The ability to measure with precision the extent of [human] impact and what to do about it are subject to continued debate and dialogue,” is all Pruitt reportedly said, according to the Times.
In spite of the measured response by the president’s EPA pick, Democrats are still deeply concerned over possibly losing control over the air that we breathe.
Pressed by newly-minted Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) about whether Pruitt intends to leave California’s authority in place, he was cagey. “I don’t know without going through the process to determine that. One would not want to presume the outcome,” he said, according to the Times.
Ironically, at the very moment the waiver was being discussed in Pruitt’s Senate confirmation hearing, California’s chief regulator of air quality and greenhouse gas emissions, Mary Nichols, was testifying in Sacramento about the importance of the waiver to her agency, the California Air Resources Board (CARB), according to the Times.
Started under Governor Ronald Reagan, CARB is a department within the California EPA that has primary authority over vehicle emissions. California is the only state in the union with a waiver to set its own stricter emission standards.
Without that waiver, CARB would be defanged — powerless.
In the state that just passed a law to regulate cow flatulence, CARB’s arrogance is giving way to fear — fear of losing control.
Pruitt’s willingness to take on California’s most hated agency will likely resonate with the beleaguered transportation industry in California, where severe and ever-changing regulations have wiped out many of the smaller, independent truckers, making competition an endangered species at best.
California’s policies are far tougher than the Federal Clean Air Act requires, in part because California had a terrible smog problem for decades. Topography created the perfect environment for dangerous “inversions,” where toxic plumes of highly concentrated smog were trapped in the Los Angeles basin in Southern California. “Smog Alerts” were a daily occurrence.
Naturally, the left will raise the specter of “dirty air” claiming that the Trump administration wants to drag us back to “smog days” so bad that school children will be forced to stay indoors at recess.
More likely, having a “global warming skeptic” like Pruitt as EPA chief will strike a much-needed balance that’s been lacking for decades.
As a member of the California State Assembly, I witnessed the extreme abuses of CARB, an unelected agency with unlimited powers run by aging environmental activists. I ran a bill to end this unnecessary agency altogether. After all, California is subject to the Federal EPA and also a California EPA.
Another taxpayer-subsidized environmental activist group in search of a mission is the last thing Californians need. CARB is notorious for changing the rules without warning, and crafting policy based on junk science or no science at all. Mission creep led CARB to decimate the once-thriving small, independent trucking industry by arbitrarily making legal, compliant trucks obsolete years before their time. Farmers and small contractors are next on CARB’s hit list.
But now, CARB could be on the ropes for a change.
If President Trump’s pick for EPA chief picks a serious fight with CARB, this could be the first ray of hope for the long-suffering Americans living behind enemy lines in the Socialist Republic of California.
Tim Donnelly is a former California State Assemblyman.