1st Edition

Smog Check
Science, Federalism, and the Politics of Clean Air

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ISBN 9781933115726
Published September 22, 2010 by Routledge
252 Pages

USD $49.95

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Book Description

When federal and state governments battle over environmental regulations, whose approach should prevail? Shortly after passage of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, a controversial U.S. EPA mandate led to an intense conflict between federal regulators and California politicians. The disagreement pitted EPA's required overhaul of auto inspections against California's desire to self-govern its test program - popularly called 'Smog Check.' The conflict nearly upended the Clean Air Act, and triggered dramatic policy shifts throughout the United States. Smog Check presents these struggles in first-hand detail. Eisinger, an EPA official at the time of this conflict, probes deeply into the issues and explores broader questions including: when does it become imperative for agencies to bargain with one another, when should regulatory flexibility and performance-based regulations be favored over command and control approaches, and what should be done when decisions need to be made in the face of scientific disagreement? The book also includes insightful commentary from other EPA participants in the Smog Check controversy. Smog Check's lessons will be relevant to climate change, air pollution control, and numerous other policy challenges.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Mary Nichols Preface The Art of Smog Check Part I: Background 1. Introduction to a State vs. Federal Dispute 2. A Brief History Leading up to the Conflict Part II: The Smog Check Conflict and its Outcomes 3. EPA Policy Runs into California Politics 4. Stalemate: Negotiations and Sanctions 5. The Deal: Flexibility Granted 6. Timelines: A Brief Visualization of the Debate Period 7. Smog Check's Legacy Part III: Analysis 8. Why the Conflict Occurred 9. The Public, the Press, and Environmental Policy 10. Lessons Learned and a New Regulatory Tool 11. Epilogue: Viewpoints from Others at EPA References Appendices A. Enhanced I/M Requirements in the 1990 CAAA B. Automotive Air Pollution and Emission Standards C. An Overview of the U.S. RSD Experience Index About the Author

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Douglas S. Eisinger is the director of transportation policy and planning at Sonoma Technology, Inc. (STI). He was the mobile sources section chief for EPA Region 9 from 1991 through 1995. He has also been the program manager for the U.C. Davis-Caltrans Air Quality Project. In 2006-2007, he was a Resources for the Future Fellow in Environmental Regulatory Implementation. Also in 2006, Dr. Eisinger was selected as a national air quality expert by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).


'What might seem an arcane debate about how cars should be inspected was actually the first round in a massive battle between determined bureaucrats and unmovable politicians, with the fate of the brand-new Clean Air Act Amendments in the balance. This is a rare and valuable glimpse at how America makes - or fails to make - critical environmental and public health policy decisions.' -Mary Nichols, Chair, California Air Resources Board

'Compelling and relevant. It is full of detail but not bogged down in jargon, and very effectively reflects the views of participants in different institutions. Eisinger offers a host of concrete lessons for policymakers and students of the policymaking process.' -Gary C. Bryner, Brigham Young University

'Doug Eisinger successfully pulls back the curtain on how policy is actually accomplished; Smog Check provides a unique look at the strengths and weaknesses of our legislative system. It's a fascinating primer with timeless insights for anyone interested in public policy or environmental management.' -Richard Katz, member, California State Assembly, 1980-96

'As a legislative participant in the debate between the EPA and the State of California over reducing air pollution from automobiles, I found Doug Eisinger's history fascinating. It contains a discerning account of the legislative process and imparts useful information for resolving future conflicts between state and federal authorities. The book is a primer for implementation of environmental and other national policy.' -Judge Quentin L. Kopp, member, California State Senate, 1986-98