Pruitt to meet with California air regulator amid car rules debate

Pruitt to meet with California air regulator amid car rules debate
© Greg Nash

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittGovernment watchdog probing EPA’s handling of Hurricane Harvey response Wheeler won’t stop America’s addiction to fossil fuels Overnight Energy: Trump rolls back methane pollution rule | EPA watchdog to step down | China puts tariffs on US gas MORE is planning to meet Friday with California’s top air quality regulator as the two parties try to hash out plans for car efficiency standards.

Pruitt is in San Francisco on Friday, and the agency said his plans include meetings with regional EPA staff based there and with Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board.

The two regulators plan “to talk about a host of issues including cooperative federalism, car and truck greenhouse gas standards, and [National Ambient Air Quality Standards],” EPA spokeswoman Kelsi Daniell said, referring to the main EPA regulator program on air quality.

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Pruitt is expected soon to announce whether he will seek to revoke California’s unique authority to set its own greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars sold there, separately from the EPA’s federal standards.

The EPA determined earlier this year that the national standards for car efficiency and emissions set under the Obama administration should be eased for the coming years, but has not said how much it wants to reduce the standards, or whether it will try to stop California from maintaining the stricter rules.

A leaked draft plan from the EPA would freeze the rules in 2020 and stop them from getting more strict through at least 2026. That draft plan also would have revoked California’s authority.

Nichols, along with California Attorney General Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraOvernight Energy: Watchdog to investigate EPA over Hurricane Harvey | Panel asks GAO to expand probe into sexual harassment in science | States sue over methane rules rollback Some states back plaintiff suing DHS over Haitians' protected status California, New Mexico sue over Trump methane pollution rollback MORE (D), has been vocally fighting Pruitt’s actions on the car standards. Both California officials also plan to do everything they can to maintain the higher standards for California and the 13 states that follow the Golden State’s car rules.

Trump administration officials last met with Nichols and other California officials in May over the car rules. The Trump administration declared the talks “productive,” but Nichols challenged the characterization on Twitter.

Daniell said Pruitt’s meetings with regional EPA staff will center on “a variety of topics, including air and water quality issues, Superfund sites in the region, and EPA’s response to extreme events — like wildfires and volcano eruption.”

Pruitt was in Southern California’s Santa Barbara County Thursday to sign off on a cleanup plan for the Casmalia Resources Superfund site.