I\u2019ve been reading classic fairy tales to my kids of late, most recently The Three Little Pigs. All of the wolf\u2019s huffing and puffing, ultimately fatal, reminded me of the federal attempt to blow down California\u2019s nearly framed carbon-light house. This threat, like the wolf\u2019s, is not the first nor is it the last. Furthermore, the fed\u2019s effort is not purely partisan. One of the blasts of hot air is aimed at the state\u2019s law to curb greenhouse gas pollution from vehicle tailpipes. Whether the law will be left standing could well be decided this month. At least initially--that is. U.S. Environmental Protection Administrator Stephen Johnson said he would decide whether to grant the state approval under the U.S. Clean Air Act before the end of this year. Federal permission is critical to the success of the state\u2019s greenhouse gas reduction law, AB 32. If the state is not allowed to control tailpipe emissions, it can\u2019t control the largest source of greenhouse gases in California. However, a critical date is October 22. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said he would sue the federal administrator if Johnson failed to decide the matter by that date. Other states have lined up behind the powerful governor to get their own federal approvals for state control of vehicle emissions to curb global warming. Like many others, I believe if EPA fails to approve California\u2019s request the fed\u2019s rationale will be blown apart as easily as the first piggy\u2019s straw house. The Congressional Research Service, for example, concluded that California has made a \u201cstrong case\u201d for its Clean Air Act \u201cwaiver\u201d request. If the fed\u2019s interfere with the state\u2019s rights, the matter will likely end up in court. In a recently revealed report, the research arm of Congress noted three legal requirements: first, that the state standard be as protective of public health as the federal one; second, that it be consistent with the federal air quality act; and third that the state demonstrate a compelling need. CRS noted that the U.S. Supreme Court\u2019s late April ruling holding that the Environmental Protection Agency must regulate CO2 unless it can prove that greenhouse gases don\u2019t cause adverse impacts \u201cmakes it hard for the agency to reject the waiver request.\u201d California submitted its waiver request December 21, 2005. State and federal lawmakers accuse Johnson of dragging out the decision. Until enactment of California\u2019s AB 1493 aimed at cutting carbon from cars and light trucks beginning in 2009, EPA routinely granted the state\u2019s waiver requests to regulate automotive emissions under the 1970 Clean Air Act. The decades-old law requires the state to get federal permission to implement its own vehicle standards because they are tighter than the EPA rules. The story of the state-federal battle is similar to one fought in the 1960s. Both tales focus more on politicians\u2019 regional interests than partisan politics. Our Republican governor plans to sue the Bush administration, as does U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), if a decision is not forthcoming. Boxer, as well as Representative Jay Inslee (D-WA), have introduced legislation to require EPA to act on the matter. Boxer\u2019s S 1735 set a September 30 decision deadline, however, the measure didn\u2019t make it to the Senate floor before the August recess. A bill with a revised deadline could well make it into other legislation. Around the same time, Representative Rick Boucher from Virginia attempted to introduce a measure to prohibit the EPA from granting California\u2019s waiver request. The Republican\u2019s effort quickly fizzled. Further highlighting the regional differences is the role of John Dingell, a Democratic lawmaker from the once prosperous auto-land of Michigan. Dingell is repeating his role in earlier history involving the federal Clean Air Act. Back in the 1960s, the Michigan Democrat led the attack on California\u2019s efforts to ensure the act allowed the state to pass more stringent smog standards for autos. At that time, California\u2019s also had a Republican governor, Ronald Reagan. In addition, the state effort to get a waiver provision into the emerging law was lead by a Republican U.S. Senator, George Murphy, a former actor and hoofer, with full support of the state Democrats. Like Reagan, Murphy had been president of the Screen Actors Guild. The state, in particular Southern California, suffered from horrendous smog. The first serious smog incident occurred in 1943. Air quality in Los Angeles was so bad that it sickened people regardless of their political affiliation and limited visibility to less than a block. The smog (a word coined by an Englishman to connote smoke and fog) was not limited to this region. In 1948, severe air pollution in Donora, Pennsylvania, caused seven deaths and numerous illnesses, which bolstered the need for two differing standards, a federal standard and a separate state standard aimed at addressing unique regional conditions and needs. In the end, California won its case in 1967 given the unquestioned harm caused by dangerous smog from the growing number of vehicles. By the time the 1970 Clean Air Act was enacted, the concept of two air quality standards regulating vehicle emissions, a federal one and a tighter California one, was firmly enshrined. Eventually, other states were allowed to opt out of the federal standard and into the California standard to help solve their pollution problems. Fourteen states have since come to follow California\u2019s lead, adopting vehicle tail pipe emissions standards because of persistent air pollution and the growing threat of global warming. Like several decades ago, California\u2019s case for a waiver is compelling given the threat from rising temperatures and sea levels, which could put parts of our coastline--and the shoreline of other state\u2019s--underwater. Global warming also impacts our fragile water supply system so critical to the state\u2019s economic and environmental welfare. In addition, higher temperatures will harm the state\u2019s famed Central Valley, a cornucopia for the world. The opponents of California\u2019s greenhouse gas reduction measure no doubt will continue to huff and puff. They will fail in the long-term, but by that time we may all be fretting and sweating.