by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The Trump administration has warned the state of California that it will face consequences if it fails to submit plans addressing what the Environmental Protection Agency called the “worst air quality” of any state in the country, according to a Monday letter from the agency.
The letter from EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler states that 34 million people in California are living in areas that don’t meet federal air quality standards, a number twice as large as any other state in the country. It further states the plans California has submitted to the EPA, known as State Implementation Plans (SIPs), to address areas with inadequate air quality “have fundamental issues related to approvability” and must be resubmitted.
The letter informs California that if it fails to submit new plans to increase air quality, the state would be ineligible to receive billions of dollars it is otherwise projected to get from the Federal Highway Administration.
“We certainly want to avoid these statutory triggers, but our foremost concern must be ensuring clean air for all Americans,” Wheeler says in the letter. “That is our goal.”
The letter gives California until Oct. 10 to notify the EPA whether it plans to withdraw and resubmit the SIPs. The federal government could impose its own plan on California if it fails to get new SIPs approved. Wheeler expressed hope that California will work with the Trump administration to address its failures.