In Confirmation Hearing, Trump’s EPA Pick Scott Pruitt Refuses to Affirm California’s Power to Regulate Vehicle Emissions

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Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, President-elect Donald Trump's choice to head the Environmental Protection Agency, testifies during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on Capitol Hill Jan. 18, 2017 in Washington, D.C. (Credit: Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)

Donald Trump’s pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency cast doubt on whether California should continue to have power to impose its own emission rules for cars and trucks, an authority the state has enjoyed for decades that is also the cornerstone of its efforts to fight global warming.

Oklahoma Atty. Gen. Scott Pruitt said at a contentious confirmation hearing Wednesday that he cannot commit to keeping in place the current version of a decades-old federal waiver that allows California to set emissions standards stricter than elsewhere in the United States.

In recent years, California regulators have used the waiver to force automakers to build more efficient vehicles, which has helped the state cut its greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks by nearly a third since 2009.

More than a dozen other states have adopted the California standard as part of their own efforts both to clean their air and fight global warming.

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