Rep Darrel Issa – Paging CARB’s Mary Nichols

Russ Steele

It has been my opinion the CARB is bureaucracy that is out of control, with little of no oversight. Now, it appears that the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has some concerns about CARB refusing the answer some questions about CARB setting fuel standards.

The Sac Bee Capitol Alert has the story:

The California Air Resources Board is now being investigated by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

On Wednesday, the committee chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Temecula, sent Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols a 13-page letter advising her that he was “expanding” the committee’s ongoing investigation into the establishment of fuel economy standards. Nichols had earlier declined to attend a committee hearing on the subject.

“Your refusal to subject yourself and your office to congressional scrutiny is emblematic of the core concern that many in Congress share…that CARB, as a state actor, is unresponsive to congressional concerns and unappreciative of congressional priorities,” Issa wrote.

Issa accompanied his observation with a series of specific questions and document requests, dealing with California’s role in the fuel economy standard deliberations. The ARB has until Nov. 23 to meet the demands.

I will keep looking for the list of questions and see how CARB answer them.  This should be real interesting, with Governor Brown holding a climate change threat conference in December. More on that meeting in another post.


About Russ Steele
Freelance writer and climate change blogger. Russ spent twenty years in the Air Force as a navigator specializing in electronics warfare and digital systems. After his service he was employed for sixteen years as concept developer for TRW, an aerospace and automotive company, and then was CEO of a non-profit Internet provider for 18 months. Russ's articles have appeared in Comstock's Business, Capitol Journal, Trailer Life, Monitoring Times, and Idaho Magazine.

42 Responses to Rep Darrel Issa – Paging CARB’s Mary Nichols

  1. Dixon Cruickshank says:

    Is this regarding the new national regulations that were imposed??

    The whole deal sounded like something from CA

  2. stevefrisch says:

    Yeah, lets see the CAFE standard (the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards) is set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The law enacting the standard is signed by President George W. Bush in 2007. It is a federal standard.

    The 9th circuit court rules that the standard is too low. Obama negotiates a deal with all of the major auto manufactures that fixes the fight going on in the courts.

    In the mean time, California creates fuel economy standards on a state-wide basis, which is consistent with the negotiated standard, and because it is the biggest single state market in the nation auto makers decide to follow suit.

    Seems like Issa is barking up the wrong tree. If he has a problem with the fuel standard he can pass a law in Congress lowering the standard.

    Besides, how do you see opposing California’s standard as consistent with your belief in states rights?

  3. FUEL STANDARDS SHOULD BE SET BY THE FREE MARKET, NOT A BUNCH OF POLITICIANS. I think a nice drive in my SUV to go attend a Sierra Club meeting is in order.

  4. stevefrisch says:

    I think you are missing the point Todd. Is it Mary Nichols fault that fuel standards are set by the federal government, or that more than 180 Republican members of congress voted for it, or that George Bush signed the law authorizing it?

    Issa said, “CARB, as a state actor, is unresponsive to congressional concerns and unappreciative of congressional priorities….”. Let’s see if I can explain this. Issa’s committee has no jurisdiction over a STATE agency….the state agency has to comply with federal law. If Issa wants to ask how fuel standards get set perhaps he should ask the NHTSA. IF …..he wants to subpoena Mary Nichols he can, and be exposed for the bully he is.

    You may think that the market should set fuel standards, but that does not make it so. The law is the law. Are we a society of laws, or are we a society of how Todd see’s the world?

    • The reason we have all these “laws” is a decision to use the Commerce Clause for anything the Federal government wants to regulate. Yes, the world is starting to turn back to Federalism and that suits me and millions of Americans just fine. The rights of the individual to be free from all your controls is stated quite well, and many times within our founding documents, you know, the basis of our “rights”. When government gets out of control like CARB and Mary Nichols have, the little people get trampled. I would agree the world as we know it would be much better and the peple more free if it followed my philosophy rather than SteveF’s big mamma government philosophy.

    • Brian H says:

      You are missing the point here. What Issa is concerned with is not that CARB has madated changes to the tail pipe emmissions but has done so in a way that will madate high gas milaege standards for cars sold in California (which is illiegal). CARB said they have not made different gas milaege standards for CA but tail pipe emmissions and gas miaege are very closely tied together.

      Issa is no more a bulley than Mary Nicholes is a visionary. She operates without any checks and balances, pushing bogus statistics (that have been manipulated and cannot be backed up by independeant laboratories) as a way to push her tree hugging agenda. I am for a greener state but not when it is one person’s extreme vision vs reality.

  5. Greg Goodknight says:

    Funny, here we have a state clearly taking action that affects interstate commerce, and the folks usually willing to stretch the commerce clause enough to fit any situation think there is no Congressional jurisdiction.

    Situational ethics at work.

  6. stevefrisch says:

    So do you guys support the application of the commerce clause on a national basis as applied to Mary Nichols and CARB, as evidenced by Issa and Steele’s contention that it should be applied to California air quality laws allowing the federal government to set national CAFE standards; or do you oppose the universal application of the commerce clause and allow California to set a higher standard? And if the auto-makers follow the California lead and set a higher fuel economy average for their fleets, do you step in and impose a lower one based on the commerce clause? Clearly your contention is that California must follow the national standard.

    And if you support setting the CAFE standard nationally how does that square with your contention that the nation can’t set a health care requirement at a national level? Don’t you see the contradiction in how you are applying your ideology? It really is one or the other.

    You just walked into a trap boys.

    Do the states have the right or the federal government?

    The California standard is now entirely consistent with the national standard as set, so what exactly is Issa complaining about?

    Finally, I notice you guys never answer the other questions embedded in my posts, like what about the 180 Republicans who voted for CAFE and the Republican President Bush who signed it?

  7. Russ says:

    I suggest that we wait and see what Issa’s questions were. I suspect they have to do with CARB influence on EPA’s actions. CARB has bragged in the past about their unusual influence at the EPA. What if CARB has provided bad data to influence an EPA decision. If you recall, we recently learned about the diesel soot data that was inflated beyond reason. We learned that the CARB diesel study was done by a staff member with a post box PhD. Could it be the question are about the viability of the data provide to the EPA by CARB? I suggest that we wait for the questions to see what the issue is, rather than the straw men created by Steven Frisch.

  8. stevefrisch says:

    I suspect, I think, it is my opinion, could it be?, I suggest, ………..opinions all colored by your ideology.

    Answer the question; do you have a problem with Republicans in Congress and President Bush supporting CAFE standards? What role does the commerce clause play in setting national targets or policy? Does the same interpretation of the commerce clause apply to health care……..?

    Pants on fire boys… don’t get to have it both ways. You can’t simultaneously contend that the federal government has a right to impose a lower CAFE standard on states under the commerce clause, but has no right to impose a health care standard under the commerce clause.

    • Barry Pruett says:

      I do not really have an opinion on GW and CAFE standards. I think most people here would agree that excessive government (be it Republican or Democrat) is the problem and turning it into a partisan game is simply rhetoric on the commenters part.

      I think that it is pretty clear that different transportation standards for different states directly effects interstate commerce while healthcare does not effect interstate commerce.

      I would like to point out that the application of the commerce clause to healthcare is likely beyond the scope of federal legislative power…and the Supreme Court will be deciding that at some point soon.

  9. Greg Goodknight says:

    No trap, Frisch, at least for me.

    The Feds step on states on a regular basis, and use the commerce clause on a regular basis to justify it. Congress, iirc, even gave California an exception in the first place to allow stronger emission controls. So it would seem Congress has the right to look into CARB’s actions, based on even a strict reading of the commerce clause.

    Does Steven Frisch disagree?

  10. stevefrisch says:

    I don’t disagree, the feds do have a right …..they have the right under the commerce clause…..I just want to see Russ and Todd agree….which they won’t because if they do they have to admit the feds have the right under the health care law as well.

    I suspect the reason Nichols is resisting testifying in front of Issa’s committee is that it is a partisan star chamber.

  11. Greg Goodknight says:

    “Let’s see if I can explain this. Issa’s committee has no jurisdiction over a STATE agency….the state agency has to comply with federal law.” Thus spake Frisch.

    The congress can subpoena any state official they want. And do. Even private citizens. They are not limited to only speaking to federal employees.

    Where do you get these ideas?

  12. Frisch is unaware I guess that the Feds can certainly ask any American or any agency to come and testify. What they may have a problem with is imposing their legal will if the strict interpretation of the Commerce Clause is not met. But like any ideological liberal, it is black and white, all or nothing and that is why a Frisch position is so easy to destroy with logic. What we on the right have a problem with regarding the Commerce Clause is it’s misuse and incorrect application by the feds to intrude on the Tenth Amendment. Obamacare is truly an abuse of the Clause and it’s mandate to force all Americans to buy a product is truly and legally unconstitutional. Sorry Frisch, checkmating you is so easy.

  13. Steven Frisch says:

    Greg, did you somehow miss my statement above that of course Issa’s committee can subpoena Ms. Nichols? The entity that has jurisdictional control over Ms. Nichols agency on this issue is the NHTSA, not Issa’s committee. Issa’s committee has oversight responsibility of the NHTSA not Carb. A subtle point, but one once again underpinned by the Commerce Clause. You guys can’t escape it. The very power you tout to bring Nichols to heel is the power hat gives the administration the right to pursue health care mandates. It’s that simple.

    Todd, I’ll play chess with you any day. It’s child’s play.

  14. Issa can subpoena anyone and you are once again shown to be incorrect SteveF. You can’t win this one. Checkmate.

  15. Steven Frisch says:

    Perhaps you should re-read my post from 23:13 last night Todd. In it I acknowledge a congressional committee’s subpoena power before either you or Greg bring it up.

    My point was that Issa’s committee has oversight authority over federal government agencies, not state agencies. The only authority he has over a state agency is to ask the administration to take a case to the Attorny’s Generals’ office for prosecution.

    Are you guys for states rights or not? Did Republicans and Bush approve CAFE or not?

    You are caught in your own web of inconsistent bull&@$7.

  16. You are simply wrong SteveF. Issa can call anyone to the committee and ask them questions. Regarding legal oversight, if the state program is using federal dollars then they certainly can be forced to testify and that could also be called oversight. So, you just need to read up a bit more. Checkmate again, boy this is really easy.

  17. Greg Goodknight says:

    “IF …..he wants to subpoena Mary Nichols he can, and be exposed for the bully he is.”

    Frisch, you sure buried your admission Issa has the power to do so; virtually all of your other words were showing why he shouldn’t even want to.

    Was Henry Waxman a bully when he was in Issa’s place? The short answer is yes; even if you like Waxman you have to admit that’s the essential job for Oversight. Issa is doing what he should, and Ms. Nichols will not have the luxury of the same friendly reception modern day Sacramento guarantees.

  18. stevefrisch says:

    Mary would eat Issa for lunch boys. She is smarter, stronger, and more polished.

    Todd, the point remains, I acknowledged Issa’s subpoena power and you just can’t read.

  19. Greg Goodknight says:

    Frisch, you buried your acknowledgment in a steaming pile of misdirection. It’s your argumentative style at fault.

    It’s easy to look polished on your home field with your own referees and control of the agenda. I had a fairly low opinion of Issa myself but after listening to him a few times, he’s obviously head and shoulders above Waxman who had a history of major misunderstandings of everything scientific, like this brain fart on NPR:

    “We’re seeing the reality of a lot of the North Pole starting to evaporate, and we could get to a tipping point. Because if it evaporates to a certain point – they have lanes now where ships can go that couldn’t ever sail through before. And if it gets to a point where it evaporates too much, there’s a lot of tundra that’s being held down by that ice cap..”

    That’s the guy who used to be in charge of oversight. Issa is a comparative intellectual giant, and there are plenty of Nichols’ errors for Issa to exploit.

  20. Todd Juvinall says:

    Issa was a very successful businessman and invented a car alarm system that made and makes him millions and employed a whole lot of people. Now what has Mary Nichols done? Hmmm. Waxman is a mean spirited public official who is an embarrassment to the political system. Unfortunately his district will allow him to be in Congress forever. Frisch is out of his league trying to debate GregG. He needs to go back over to the liberal blog for a dose of brown nosing.

  21. Barry Pruett says:

    A U.S. district judge threw out the nation’s health care law, declaring it unconstitutional because it violates the Commerce Clause.

  22. stevefrisch says:

    Greg, perhaps you guys should just get your heads out of your a** and actually read the posts!

  23. stevefrisch says:

    Another US district court panel upheld the health care law, pivoting on the vote of Reagan Republican and conservative leading light Laurence Silberman, who stated unequivocally, its in the commerce clause:

  24. Barry Pruett says:

    While it is well-settled law that different transportation standards for different states directly effects interstate commerce it is not even close to well-settled law whether healthcare effects interstate commerce at all. So to draw the comparison and to chastise Todd and Greg is a little premature.

  25. gjrebane says:

    SteveF 2235 – “Besides, how do you see opposing California’s standard as consistent with your belief in states rights?” Is that not a little bit of sophomoric reasoning? Believing in states’ rights has literally nothing to do (semantically orthogonal) with agreeing or not with a particular legislative/regulatory action that a state takes on a given issue. Supporting states’ rights just acknowledges that a state should have the prerogative and primacy in making and enforcing such decisions. This distinction should not be too difficult even for progressives to comprehend. Capice?

  26. stevefrisch says:

    Here let me make it easier for you Georgie; you guys are always saying the feds should butt out and let the states make their own rules. So California, based on the clear will of the people as expressed by the legislature, makes a rule about a state fuel standard and now the Republican leader of the house oversight committee wants to contend that the state interfered in setting the federal standard.

    If you believe in states rights you should be supporting the states right to set its own standard, and as you are so fond of saying, let the market decide. But your are not really fond of states rights, you are fond of the states who define rights the way you want them defined, and deride states that define rights in ways you don’t agree with. In short, you are all hypocrites.

  27. OK, let us accept Stevie’s view on fuel standards. Excellent point! Then he would accept ours on healthcare.

    Reading the latest Judge’s 2-1 decision on Obamacare simply shows the problem with a “law” so confusing the judiciary is unsure of its amalgamated position. My opinion on the tyranny of the judiciary as it has become in our country is bolstered by this ridiculous opinion by Silberman. It matters not left or right at the judicial level, even in local decisions on innocuous things like sentencing a drugee.

  28. stevefrisch says:

    Fortunately Todd we have a judicial system that depends upon our founding documents and more than 200 years of precedent to guide its decisions, precisely as our founders intended.

  29. So you would support the position on say, timber harvest? Since we seem to have a new lawsuit for every timber harvest in the West, why doesn’t your idea of precedent come into play? No Stevie, the system is briken and it matters not left or right.

  30. gjrebane says:

    SteveF 2258 – Your lack of understanding seems to be a constant wherever you comment. It looks like you just made the states’ rights interpretation easier for yourself so you wouldn’t have to go through the more difficult parsing of supporting states’ rights and opposing a specific exercise of such rights. However, this deficit does illustrate the progressive mind and gives further credence to the research done at London College University on the different regions of the brain used for reasoning by those of your persuasion about which I have reported on RR. But it really underlines the futility of communicating even simple notions like the one involving states’ rights here. Sally forth!

  31. Greg Goodknight says:

    The standards of the readers here doesn’t need improvement, the obfuscation of Frisch’s writing needs regulation.

    In the beginning, California was allowed separate pollution standards because of the uniqueness of California’s air quality problems, primarily in the Los Angeles basin, with oxides of nitrogen being the major factor.

    The new mileage standards is a CO2 control meant not help California solve any air quality issue but rather an imagined worldwide catastrophe. There is no ‘unique to California’ issue here. Sacramento just wants to set national policy without national oversight.

  32. stevefrisch says:

    George, it just seems that when you ideas are challenged you immediately resort to an over-intellectualized version of saying “you are too stupid to understand”. Since the only response to that is “back at you”, I think we are done here.

    In the final analysis this entire issue boils down to one thing: you guys don’t really give a sh*t about the constitution, you only care about the constitution being interpreted in a way that you agree with, with is the ultimate in un-Americanism in my eyes.

  33. Finally, oops, another threat to leave by the rent seeker. The RS in my view is truly unAmerican in his desire for less personal and individual freedom under our Constitution. We on the right wish more freedom and less government. It is a sad thing to see a self described “smarter than the average bear” person give away those hard fought for rights.

    I just heard Obama booted the pipeline and 20,000 jobs but he wouldn’t fkip that internet switch eh Stevie?

  34. Greg Goodknight says:

    Frisch again ignoring substance, diving right for whatever ad hominem he thinks will fling well into the fan and provoke an angry reaction.

    So, Frisch, how does exercising in a 0.039% CO2 atmosphere feel like, compared to that 0.035% CO2 atmosphere your grandparents enjoyed? Readers who are chemistry challenged may recall that the gases you exhale have about 100 times as much CO2 as what is breathed in.

  35. Greg, Fruisch is a failed cook from a little kitchen. It is no wonder he cannot compete in science. He may be able to chop an inion but debating AGW is way over his head.

  36. D. King says:

    Steve Frisch said:

    “Mary would eat Issa for lunch boys. She is smarter, stronger, and more polished.”

    …and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!

    Who is Hien Thanh Tran PhD. Steve?

    Let me help you.

    Hien T. Tran was the lead scientist who wrote the report upon which the heavy duty truck and bus regulations are based. He bought a mail order Ph.D. from Thornhill “University” located at 255 Madison, New York. Using his fake Ph.D., the unqualified liar applied for and got the position as Manager of the Health and Ecosystem Assessment Section. Some of the board members, the chair of the California Air Resources Board, Mary Nichols knew of the fraud before voting on the controversial regulation. The board members who knew, kept the information from other board members for nearly a year after the vote. The Governor also had the information and failed to take action.

    Wow, and then this happened.

    CARB – Diesel Emissions Overestimated 340%

    Worse, last year members of the CARB learned that the author of critical studies on diesel engine pollution, Hien Tran, had falsified his academic credentials. Tran admitted his deception, and accepted a CARB demotion.

    Demotion Steve? So, he still works there?

    So, all Issa has to ask is: Who is Hien Thanh Tran PhD?

    Let the stuttering begin!

  37. Russ says:

    Steven F,

    The issue is not about if CA had the right to set green house gas emissions standards under AB32, it is about CARB’s influence in setting milage standards since these had been given under CAFE to NHTSA, not to the EPA or the White House, yet Mary Nichols held secret meetings with both by her own admission to implement millage standards under AB32. Here are some details from an article in Land Line Magazine.

    “In light of these concerns, I am expanding the Committee’s investigation into the activities of CARB leading up to the agreement for fuel economy standards MY 2017-2025,” Issa wrote. “I respectfully request your cooperation with this investigation.”

    CARB spokesman Stanley Young said CARB is working on a response to Issa’s letter.
    “Chairman Nichols welcomes the opportunity to respond to the letter,” Young told Land Line Magazine. “We do want to make it clear that, as for the claim of ‘apparent’ violation of federal law, we have federal court decisions in Vermont and California that definitively indicate that ARB’s vehicle standards are not fuel economy standards.”

    OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer blasted a process that would allow a state regulatory body to set federal policy.

    “Given the level of incompetence coupled with blatant arrogance exhibited by CARB in California on truck emissions, to think they could be calling the shots nationally is a disaster with far-reaching consequences almost too terrifying to comprehend,” Spencer said.

    California’s actions in setting fuel economy standards may have violated federal law, Issa said in the letter. Congress has delegated fuel mileage authority to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

    CARB’s regulation of greenhouse gas emissions involve fuel economy regulation, Issa wrote, even touting the “cost-effective” nature that CARB’s greenhouse gas rules create for vehicle owners.
    “In summary, it appears that CARB and the state of California are in the business of regulating fuel economy standards, in direct contravention of the law,” Issa wrote.


    Issa’s Nov. 9 letter concludes with 18 questions, including many multiple-part questions, as well as requests for documentation of the negotiations between CARB, EPA and the White House. The committee wants to know what technical research in the EPA rule was provided by CARB, which CARB staffers worked on negotiations, and whether group meetings between the agencies were avoided in favor of tightly controlled meetings.

    “Do you believe that a closed and secretive process is the best approach for regulating an industry that affects nearly every American?” one question reads. “If no, explain in detail why CARB agreed to participate in such a process.”

    So, the issue is not about States Rights, it about the intrference of CARB in a federal mandated process, which they had no legal standing and it was done in secert.

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