Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt said that when it comes to determining new federal vehicle emission standards, California doesn’t have the right to lead.
Speaking to Bloomberg News on Tuesday, Pruitt said, “California is not the arbiter of these issues.”
The Golden State currently regulates its own greenhouse gas emissions at the state level. In the past, the state’s desire to implement higher emissions standards than those that are federally mandated led it to make a deal with the Obama administration for an exemption.
But Pruitt said that California “shouldn’t and can’t dictate to the rest of the country” what emissions levels might be.
“We want to hear from those folks in California and hear from the political leadership and try to make some informed decisions, but also say at the same time, we have a job to do,” Pruitt told Bloomberg. “We’re going to do our job. And if there are steps being taken to impede that, we’ll have to address that.”
The administration has set an April 1 deadline to determine whether it will revise federal vehicle emissions standards for 2022 to 2025.
Some states, including California and Massachusetts, currently set higher fuel emission standards than the federal standard, as allowed under a waiver program determined by former President Obama. A change could drastically affect California, which faces some of the worst air pollution of any state.
California is currently working on setting its own standards through 2030, something Pruitt dismissed.
“Being predictive about what’s going to be taking place out in 2030 is really hard,” Pruitt told the news outlet. “I think it creates problems when you do that too aggressively. That’s not something we’re terribly focused on right now.”
In January, Pruitt said he supported a unified national vehicle fuel standard, stoking state fears that the agency may do away with waivers allowing states to implement stronger standards.