California Emissions Waiver

Grind for September 21st
“Older people shouldn’t eat health food, they need all the preservatives they can get.” – Robert Orben

Not So Fast

The Headline

Trump Administration to overturn Obama-era policy allowing California to set its own emissions standards

The Grind

In 2013, the EPA issued a waiver to the state of California allowing it to set emissions standards more stringent than those imposed by the federal government.

The move forced automakers to decide whether to comply with the new standards or risk losing a huge market. Thirteen other states have signed on to California’s air quality standards.

In July, California signed a deal with Honda, BMW, Ford, and Volkswagen in which the automakers agree to follow emissions standards more stringent than those proposed by the Trump Administration.

The Department of Justice says the deal could be illegal and has launched an antitrust probe.

The deal asks automakers to produce vehicles that average 50 mpg by 2026. The Trump Administration wants to freeze standards at 37 mpg.

The Details

Automakers have responded favorably to the Administration’s moves to ease fuel efficiency standards, while critics claim the Administration is trying to cut back on efforts to fight climate change.

Speaking this week to the National Automobile Dealers Association, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler portrayed California’s emissions standards as unfair: “Federalism does not mean that one state can dictate standards for the nation.”

The Administration’s decision on California comes less than one month after the state imposed a controversial rule requiring all presidential candidates to release five years of income tax returns.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra plans to defend the emissions waiver in court.

A Good Idea

The Headline

Proposed legislation would block the federal government from purchasing drones produced in countries that present a national security risk

The Grind

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is working on a bill that would prevent federal agencies and police forces from using drones produced in China (or any other country that presents a risk to national security).

The American Security Drone Act of 2019 would give officials six months to find replacements for any banned drones currently in use.

The Details

“For far too long, we have turned a blind eye to China and allowed their technology into some of the most critical operations of the US Government,” argues Senator Rick Scott (R-FL). “This has to stop.”

Scott and others are worried that Chinese drones may be sending sensitive information back to Beijing.

Chinese manufacturer DJI claims Beijing has never asked for any of the data it collects and says that some of its products can be modified to prevent data transmission.

“Relying on drones made by our adversaries is a clear risk to our national security,” says Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR). Chinese companies have “stolen sensitive drone technology from America’s businesses and military for years and now sells it back to us.”

A law passed earlier this year blocks Chinese-made drones from military use. This week, Chinese tech company Huawei was expelled from membership in a global forum on cybersecurity.

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