Climate Bill Boosts California Move to Clean Cars

Politico cites Senior Fellow Marlo Lewis on California’s new climate bill:

Marlo Lewis, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said he expects California and its allies to “undoubtedly claim” that the Inflation Reduction Act strengthens the state’s ability to set stronger emissions standards than the federal government.

But he said the legislation is unlikely to make a difference because the nearly $740 billion tax, climate and health law is largely a spending bill.

The new law’s “authorities are fiscal, not regulatory,” Lewis said. “The IRA cannot create new regulatory authorities or strengthen existing ones. At most, it can increase funding for regulations authorized under other statutes.”

Lewis noted the legislation provides a $5 million grant in support of state policies that are “assumed to be lawful” under California’s Clean Air Act waiver.

“Whether those policies are lawful can only be determined by a review of those statutes, not inferred from a spending bill like the IRA,” he said.

EPA in 2019 under former President Donald Trump revoked California’s emissions waiver, citing a need for national uniformity. The Biden administration in March restored the waiver, with EPA Administrator Michael Regan saying it reaffirms “California’s long-standing authority to lead in addressing pollution from cars and trucks.”

A coalition of Republican-led states in April asked a federal court to determine if California is entitled to its decades-old practice of setting its own emission standards (Climatewire, April 12).

Some of those states, led by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, filed suit in May against the Biden EPA over the decision to reinstate the waiver. Yost’s office did not respond to requests for comments about the impact of the Inflation Reduction Act on the legal fight.

Lewis said the climate law is unlikely to play a role in red states’ case against California’s waiver, noting the challengers are arguing that allowing motor vehicle emission standards solely for the Golden State is unconstitutional because it violates states’ equal sovereignty under the Constitution. Congress cannot write laws that violate the Constitution, he said.

“Granting $5 million for state policies predicated on an invalidly granted waiver would not legalize them,” Lewis said.

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