Fearing President Trump's next steps, California lawmakers review their options under Clean Air Act

By Chris Megerian, Los Angeles Times.

In a sign of uneasiness over President Trump's environmental agenda, state lawmakers hosted a hearing Wednesday to discuss how California's air quality policies rely on federal regulations. 

Although the state is allowed to pursue stricter rules than federal standards under the nearly five-decade-old Clean Air Act, such steps require a waiver from the federal government. Trump's choice to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, former Oklahoma Atty. Gen. Scott Pruitt, has signaled he may be  more skeptical of the state's requests  than previous administrators, who granted requests nearly every time they were submitted. 

“Nothing in the law has changed to justify the EPA withholding our waiver," said Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), who testified at the hearing. "The only thing that has changed is the balance of political power in Washington, D.C." 

The waivers have been an important tool for California's efforts to improve air quality in polluted areas and tackle global warming. Other states also can choose to follow California's lead, meaning waiver requests made from Sacramento can have nationwide implications. 

“If Washington doesn’t want to lead on cleaning up our air or fighting climate change, it should stay out of our way," De León said.