Tricky, Tricky

You may remember that one of the ongoing battles between the EPA and Congress is over California’s petition to institute tough limits on greenhouse gases from cars and trucks. EPA chief Stephen Johnson blocked the move, despite the unanimous recommendation of his staff, and has fought Congress’ attempts to investigate. California and 17 other states have sued in response. But the administration had more than one trick up its sleeve….

From The San Francisco Chronicle:

When the Bush administration announced proposed regulations Tuesday to raise fuel economy standards for cars and trucks to 31.6 miles per gallon by 2015, even some environmentalists applauded. But then they read the fine print.

Tucked deep into a 417-page “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” was language by the Transportation Department stating that more stringent limits on tailpipe emissions embraced by California and 17 other states are “an obstacle to the accomplishment” of the new federal standards and are “expressly and impliedly preempted” by federal law.

California Attorney General Jerry Brown called it a covert assault on California’s rules. Environmentalists said the language will be used by automakers in their legal challenges to two recent federal court rulings that sided with the states.

Via Dan Froomkin.