EPA racing clock for 50-state emissions plan

Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler on Wednesday defended the Trump administration’s proposal to scale back tailpipe emissions standards and held out hope for an agreement with California on a national program that would make compliance less costly for automakers.

Wheeler told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which held a hearing on his nomination to be the permanent EPA chief, that he has met with California Air Resources Board Chairman Mary Nichols three times in his office and held numerous other conversations with her to try to align the federal and California emissions programs. Technical staff on both sides also have been in frequent contact.

“Nobody wants a 50-state deal more than I do,” he said. “I haven’t given up hope on that yet. But we’re also looking at the calendar, and we know we need to finalize our proposal by March 30.”