Gov. Jan Brewer may rescind Arizona's new "clean car" regulations to cut greenhouse gases even before they take effect. Gubernatorial press aide Paul Senseman said Monday that the new governor is "reviewing" the rules, pushed through last year by her predecessor.
Senseman said Brewer specifically wants the input of state lawmakers about whether Arizona should have its own rules. Their views were ignored last year by Janet Napolitano, who vetoed legislation to overturn the regulations.
The governor's move comes as President Barack Obama said Monday he is weighing letting each state enact its own vehicle emission standards.
Most immediately, he wants the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to weigh dropping its opposition to letting California establish its own tailpipe standards for carbon dioxide and other gases believed linked to global climate change.
If California gets its own standards, existing federal law already allows Arizona to follow suit. And the Arizona rules enacted last year will automatically kick in when that happens - unless Brewer first gets the regulations repealed.
California was the first state in the country to adopt its own air quality rules for greenhouse gases, a move it took after the EPA refused to enact national regulations. Federal law allows states to adopt either the national rules or those from California.
The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, under orders from Napolitano, crafted rules requiring that vehicles sold in Arizona beginning in 2011 for the 2012 model year meet those California standards. But those rules have been on hold since the EPA refused to grant California the necessary permission to adopt greenhouse gas rules.
California filed suit against the EPA in federal court and Arizona, along with other states, joined in.
On Monday, though, Obama directed Lisa Jackson, his new EPA chief, to review that decision made by the Bush administration "and determine the best way forward."
"This will help us create incentives to develop new energy that will make us less dependent on oil that endangers our security, our economy, and our planet," he said, saying the federal government "must work with, not against, states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."
That announcement sets the stage for EPA to reverse its stance, a move that would put the California - and Arizona - rules back on track.
Senseman said no decision has been made on whether to rescind the Arizona rules. But he said Brewer does want to review them before they can take effect.
Those rules require each automobile manufacturer to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions from its total sales in the state by 37percent by 2016.
It does not ban the sale of any particular type of vehicle now sold in Arizona. Instead, it sets standards for how much more each manufacturer's "fleet" of vehicles sold in the state must reduce carbon dioxide from current levels.
It also contains a mandate that, beginning in 2012, 10percent of all vehicles sold in Arizona must have no emissions at all, whether they are powered by electricity, hydrogen or some other source. That increases to 16percent by 2022.
Lawmakers, whose bill to halt the rules was vetoed by Napolitano, were not the only ones unhappy with the rules. Manufacturers charged that the standards will add at least $6,000 to the cost of new cars and light trucks. At the same time, Wynn Bussman, an economist hired by the manufacturers, pegged the net savings from things like increased fuel efficiency at less than $1,000.
But Pat Cunningham, at the time the deputy DEQ director, called that "flat-out wrong" and little more than "advocacy." Cunningham, who now is acting DEQ director, instead cited figures from the California Air Resources Board that peg the price tag for vehicles at less than $1,100 more with savings from lower gasoline use and maintenance approaching $3,000.