By Dan Shapley
Key House Democrats have dropped controversial parts of their energy plans that would have prevented California from adopting statewide regulations aimed at reducing carbon emissions from vehicles. With 11 states poised to adopt the California standards, the blockage in the House was widely criticized, and its backers ultimately abandoned a proposal to consolidate fuel efficiency-setting powers with the Transportation Department. In a landmark decision this spring, the Supreme Court said that the Environmental Protection Agency has clear authority to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant, which could set the stage for the EPA's approval of California's plans. It's a bureaucratic maze, but because of a Clean Air Act provision, California needs a waiver from the EPA to enact its auto emissions rule, after which the other states can follow suit. If Congress had limited the EPA's jurisdiction over automobiles, the states' plans would have been derailed, despite the tacit endorsement of the Supreme Court, according to a story in the June 19 San Francisco Chronicle.