Scott Pruitt: California Can’t 'Dictate' National Emissions Policy
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt had fighting words for California in an interview with Bloomberg News Tuesday, deepening a rift between the Trump administration and the Golden State over the future of Obama-era fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks.
The EPA faces an April 1 deadline to determine if the emissions standards set by the previous administration are achievable from 2022 to 2025. California, which has been granted a waiver by the Clean Air Act of 1970 to set its own, tougher standards, has already said it will stick to the Obama-era regulations. The state is currently in the process of drafting its own standards through 2030.
While Pruitt didn't articulate plans to challenge California's waiver, his remarks expressed annoyance with the powerful role the state plays in negotiating national standards.
"California is not the arbiter of these issues," Pruitt said. He acknowledged the waiver, but added "that shouldn't and can't dictate to the rest of the country what these levels are going to be."
He also put a damper on the one route to compromise California has offered.
In an interview with Bloomberg News in September, chair of the California Air Resources Board (CARB) Mary Nichols said she would be open to reconsidering California's standards through 2025 if the automotive industry and the federal government would agree to tougher standards for 2030.
"The price of getting us to the table is talking about post-2025," Nichols said.
But Pruitt seemed to reject that offer Tuesday, saying the EPA is not "presently" considering extending standards.
"Being predictive about what's going to be taking place out in 2030 is really hard," Pruitt said. "I think it creates problems when you do that too aggressively. That's not something we're terribly focused on right now."
The standards in question were agreed to in 2011 by the auto industry, CARB, the EPA, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. They require automobiles to reach an average of more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025.
The EPA under Obama ruled that the 2022-2025 standards needed no revision, but the Trump administration overturned that ruling.
The automobile industry had lobbied the Trump administration to review the standards, but they also do not want to see California's and the nation's standards diverge, fearing a split would lead to greater expenses, Bloomberg reported.
In an interview with Bloomberg Radio Wednesday, UCLA environmental law professor Ann Carlson said it's likely that the Pruitt EPA will decide to lower standards when it announces its decision in April, while California has already committed to maintaining them.
"Then the big question will be, will they let California do that, or will they try to revoke California's waiver," Carlson said.
Since the EPA has already granted the waiver through 2025, revoking it now would lead California to sue.
Other states like Washington, New York and Oregon, who have chosen to follow California's emissions standards and make up around one third of U.S. vehicle sales overall, could very well join California in court.
But even if the EPA doesn't revoke California's waiver, its decision to lower standards would still put the planet at risk.
"In my view, the auto emissions standards are the most important climate change policy that the Obama administration issued," Carlson said. This is because greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector have actually gone up due to lower gas prices and lobbying by the auto industry to sell SUVs and other large cars.
"If this gets unraveled, we're going to see an even steeper increase in greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector," Carlson said.
Scott Pruitt Voted Worst Trump Minion, Ryan Zinke Runner-Up https://t.co/Z9jC5eJWkb @NRDC @UCSUSA @foe_us @greenpeaceusa— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1519924257.0
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Where Does the Deficiency Begin?<p>Nobody knows exactly how much vitamin D a person actually needs. The question of when a deficiency starts is correspondingly controversial. However, vitamin D is becoming increasingly popular.Not only is the pseudo-scientific literature on the "sun vitamin" experiencing an upswing, but the number of published studies has also increased enormously in recent years. For example, in 2019 <a href="https://academic.oup.com/edrv/article/40/4/1109/5126915" target="_blank">a study found that</a> Vitamin D is responsible for keeping the skeleton functional and is associated with cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and various types of cancer. <br></p>
An All-Rounder<p>Vitamin D levels in the body rise and fall according to sun exposure. If sufficient UV rays reach the skin, the body is able to produce the vitamin itself. However, the human body only derives an estimated 10 to 20 percent of its daily requirement from food.</p><p>The vitamin D that we synthesize from sunlight or food is not biologically active at first. Before the kidneys can produce the biologically active form of the vitamin, known as calcitriol, and release it into the blood, some metabolic processes must take place beforehand.</p><p>In addition, many organs have receptors to which the precursor of calcitriol binds. Further, this substance is also present in blood.</p><p>From this precursor, the organs then produce calcitriol themselves, which the body then uses for countless other processes in the body. This form of vitamin D thus regulates insulin secretion, inhibits tumor growth, and promotes the formation of red blood cells as well as the survival and activity of macrophages, which are important for the <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/5/7/2502/htm" target="_blank">immune system.</a></p>
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Association Versus Intervention Studies<p>Many studies on the vitamin are association or observational studies. "By definition, these studies cannot prove the causal relationship, but only point to mere correlations," said Fassnacht. The physician tries to illustrate this with an example:</p><p>"Imagine two groups of 80-year-olds. One group is spry, active and does sports. If you compare them with another group living in nursing homes, the difference in vitamin D levels will be dramatic. Life expectancy would also be extremely different."</p><p>But to try to explain the difference in fitness by vitamin D status alone is far too simplistic. "Vitamin D levels are a good measure of how sick someone is. But not more," says Fassnacht. </p><p>According to Fassnacht, none of the intervention studies carried out to date -- that specifically examined the effect of vitamin D on various diseases -- has been able to confirm the previous association and laboratory studies or the presumed positive effect of vitamin D.</p>
Further Research Is Needed<p>"If a coronavirus infection is suspected, it is therefore absolutely necessary to check the vitamin D status and quickly correct any possible deficit," said the recommendation of the paper published by the University of Hohenheim.</p><p>"Studies are underway to see whether vitamin D helps in COVID-19 infection, but I personally do not believe that this is really the case," says endocrinologist Fassnacht. Nevertheless, he says it is of course useful to carry out these studies.<br></p><p>"I don't want to rule out that there are actually subgroups of people who benefit from an additional vitamin D dose," he says. After all, this has been proven to be the case with a severe deficit.</p><p>In view of the study situation, Fassnacht does not think much of preventive, nationwide vitamin D substitutes. "My belief that the vitamin helps somewhere is very low. But, of course, I can be wrong."</p>
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