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Air Quality Advocates Worry EPA Waivers At Risk

Brett K. Snow, Pool / AP Photo

Hundreds of trees sit dead in the San Bernardino National Forest in California, due to drought and the Bark Beetle.

Brett K. Snow, Pool / AP Photo

Some people are afraid California's ability to create its own environmental policies may soon suffer a major setback.

The Environmental Protection Agency's new chief, Scott Pruitt, has not committed to continuing the state's waiver authority.

At the state Capitol Wednesday, air quality advocates talked about how the waivers have made life better in California with regulations such as strict emissions standards.

Kevin Hamilton is the executive director and CEO of the Central California Asthma Collaborative.

"When I'm driving up the freeway now, on the 99, I'm not seeing a bunch of old clunkers smoking up the road so much anymore," says Hamilton. "I see very few of those, in fact almost none. But thanks to this we see that forward progress. That would all stop."

Hamilton told lawmakers his first car was a 1965 Ford Galaxy.

"It looked a lot different than the car that I drove here today - a Ford Edge," says Hamilton. "So, maybe not the most emission clean car in the world but a hell of a lot cleaner than that Galaxy was; I'll tell you right now."

Bill Magavern, policy director for the Coalition for Clean Air, says the state Legislature should call on California's Congressional Delegation to make it an urgent priority to preserve California's authority under the Clean Air Act.

He says the state's standards should be set tougher than the federal standard knowing there are those who would take it away.

"We need to be ready for the very real possibility that this administration will not be providing the help that we need," says Magavern. "And in that case, this Legislature and the Air Resources Board need to be ready to fill the void left if the federal government retreats from clean air."

Any efforts to end the waivers would likely face legal challenges.

 air qualityEPA

Steve Milne

Morning Edition Anchor & Reporter

Steve is the voice of Capital Public Radio News as anchor of Morning Edition and Insight. He covers stories on a wide range of topics including: business, education, real estate, agriculture and music. Steve also produced stories for CapRadio.org.   Read Full Bio