Sep 24, 2019 - Energy & Environment

Trump administration threatens California with highway funding cuts

 US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Andrew Wheeler speaks during a news conference at the EPA headquarters in Washington, DC, on September 19

Andrew Wheeler. Photo: Alastair Pike/AFP/Getty Images

The Environmental Protection Agency has sent the California Air Resources Board a letter threatening to cut federal highway funding because of air pollution issues — claiming that the state has the "worst air quality" in the U.S.

Why it matters: The letter, first reported by the Sacramento Bee, from EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler declaring that California has failed to "carry out its most basic tasks under the Clean Air Act" marks the latest in a series of battles between the Trump administration and the liberal state.

  • The New York Times notes that while California upset Trump by introducing strict standards aimed at tackling climate change pollution from vehicles as the president tried to implement green policy rollbacks, "Wheeler’s new letter to the state offers a twist on the narrative."

Driving the news: Trump warned while visiting California last week that the EPA would revoke its waiver under the Clean Air Act that enables the state to set CO2 emissions rules that exceed federal standards.

  • California and 23 other states are suing the Trump administration for plans to revoke the state's authority to set stricter tailpipe emissions rules than the rest of the U.S.
  • A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction last Thursday blocking a new California law requiring presidential candidates to release their tax returns in order to appear on the primary ballot — something the president has steadfastly refused to do.
  • Trump threatened San Francisco last Wednesday that the EPA would issue a notice to the city declaring that it has committed environmental violations because of its homeless crisis.
  • The president said he's considering an "individual task force" to tackle the issue of homelessness in California.

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