Under pressure, ARB executive officer changes stance on soot rules

The ranking staff executive of California’s Air Resources Board, under intense pressure from others in Gov. Schwarzenegger’s administration and environmentalists, abruptly reversed position and withdrew a request that the Bush administration ease federal pollution rules.

Catherine Witherspoon, the ARB’s executive officer, on March 12 asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for a five-year delay to meet federal soot-reduction rules. The federal government had ordered the soot cutbacks by 2015, but Witherspoon said California needed more time, until 2020.

But on Tuesday, Witherspoon told the U.S. EPA that she wanted to “withdraw my letter.”

“That letter was misinterpreted by several stakeholders in California as an official petition for a five-year delay to the current 2015 deadline

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