Separate but tougher

The Mercury News published an AP story on a study released March 16 by the National Academies' National Research Council. As noted in the report's 27-page summary (pdf, 620KB), Congress requested the EPA "to arrange for an independent study of the practices and procedures by which states develop separate emission standards." The study not only found early successes resulting from California's tougher than the federal Clean Air Act standards in vehicle emissions, but recommended California,
continue its pioneering role in setting mobile-source emissions standards...[and] continue to be a proving ground for new emissions-control technologies that benefit California and the rest of the nation.
The news article noted a number of states have recently adopted California's mobile emission regulations (as allowed under amendment to section 177 of the Clean Air Act): Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. (See FR, Coast states drive to regulate vehicle emissions.)

Though the auto industry claimed the tougher standards result in significant costs for consumers, the study concluded, "that the California program has been beneficial overall for air quality by improving mobile-source emissions control." On possible issues arising as more states move to follow California, the summary suggested:
EPA could alleviate such disputes either by providing formal but nonbinding guidance or by being given the power to grant or, in limited circumstances, deny a waiver allowing states to adopt California standards.
State and Federal Standards for Mobile Source Emissions
(available as an Open Book from National Academies Press)

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