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For nearly a decade, Republicans crusaded against former President Barack Obama’s environmental regulations. In lawsuit after lawsuit, GOP attorneys general claimed states had a constitutional right to set weaker standards, if that’s what they wanted, and that it superseded the public health benefits of federal rules cutting pollution.
On Wednesday, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler defended the Trump administration’s effort to limit states’ ability to enact stricter rules to curb pollution, particularly planet-heating emissions.
“States don’t always do the appropriate thing,” Wheeler said at a conference at the conservative Heritage Foundation.
Last August, the Trump administration proposed revoking the Golden State’s right to set stricter limits on tailpipe emissions. It challenged, for the first time, a provision of the Clean Air Act that gives special autonomy to smog-choked California. The move is part of an effort to reverse Obama-era fuel economy rules at the behest of oil companies and to prevent automakers from having to manufacture vehicles with different standards depending on the state.
In June, the EPA issued a new legal guidance that seeks to restrain states that want to deny gas and oil pipeline permits under a specific provision of the Clean Water Act. The guidance came a month after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) rejected a water quality permit and temporarily halted construction of the controversial Williams Pipeline, a conduit to carry natural gas from Pennsylvania to the New York City area.
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