Trump EPA rescinding Obama-era auto fuel efficiency, emissions standards

Simon Moss
April 3, 2018

The intended message: "The climate crisis is real and your efforts with Trump to roll back #CleanerCars standards will not go unnoticed".

"The previous administration's determination was wrong", EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said in a statement.

"Cooperative federalism doesn't mean that one state can dictate standards for the rest of the country", Pruitt said. The new standard provided significant environmental and financial benefits if fully implemented. Vehicles made lighter through greater aluminum use offer consumers better performance, affordable choices, higher fuel economy, lower emissions and improved safety. The regulation would have prevented 6 billion metric tons of planet-warming gases ― equivalent to a year's worth of pollution from 150 power plants ― from ever entering the atmosphere.

The fuel standards "didn't comport with reality", he said, noting that mandated standards were simply set "too high". The Auto Alliance, a trade group that represents USA automakers, praised the decision to revisit the standards in a statement but urged the Trump administration to strike a deal with California. The fate of that long-standing special treatment under President Donald Trump remains a subject of speculation.

Last year, when Trump first announced his plan to reverse the auto standards, California Gov.

The decision also puts the Trump administration's tenuous relationship with California officials on an even rockier path. The EPA's determination, they suggest, may lead to a protracted battle between blue states and the administration that leaves carmakers without a clear set of rules. Through a Clean Air Act waiver granted by the EPA, California can impose stricter standards for vehicle emissions of certain pollutants than federal requirements.

The Auto Alliance, whose members include Ford, GM, FCA, Mazda, Toyota, and Volvo, among others, applauded Pruitt's announcement and said "This was the right decision, and we support the administration for pursuing a data-driven effort and a single national program as it works to finalize future standards".

"The California waiver is still being reexamined by EPA under Administrator Pruitt's leadership", the agency said in the release.

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"This decision takes the USA auto industry backward, and we will vigorously defend the existing clean vehicle standards and fight to preserve one national clean vehicle program", she said, adding that the EPA's decision "changes nothing in California and the 12 other states with clean-car rules that reduce emissions and improve gas mileage - those rules remain in place".

Already, California's Attorney General, Gen.

Becerra said he and the CARB were still reviewing the EPA's action but he is "ready to file suit if needed to protect these critical standards".

The decision prompted sharp criticism from former EPA administrators. If negotiations fail, the EPA might try to revoke the state's authority to craft its own emissions rules. "They won't be as clean", Browner. "It was a negotiation".

The long-anticipated announcement on auto emissions rules was immediately praised by automakers and conservative groups.

"We support increasing clean vehicle standards through 2025 and are not asking for a rollback", Bill Ford, executive chairman of Ford Motor Company, and Jim Hackett, President and CEO of the automaker, wrote in an open letter late last month. "The position we outlined was sensible".

The Trump administration's onslaught against rules to cut planet-warming emissions has repeatedly hit snares in the courts. But just before Obama left office, the EPA determined that the rule should stand as it was originally designed. But the law is still on the books, and the EPA has yet to propose a replacement that meets the legal requirements set by a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that found the agency is obliged to regulate any type of air pollution that "may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare", including greenhouse gases. A new auto meeting the 2025 standards, the Natural Resources Defense Council notes, would save a consumer about $4,000 in fuel over the life of the vehicle compared to the average auto meeting 2017 standards.

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