Trump Administration Aims to Freeze Fuel Standards, End Tougher California Rules

Trump's EPA formally launches attack on California's fuel-economy rules

Trump's EPA formally launches attack on California's fuel-economy rules

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The Trump administration on Thursday proposed weakening Obama-era mileage standards created to make cars more fuel efficient and less polluting, a major rollback already being challenged in the courts by California and other states.

Shifting to a more relaxed standard would have "negligible environmental impacts on air quality", the agencies said in their proposal.

California has had the authority under the half-century-old Clean Air Act to set its own mileage standards to combat its chronic smog problem.

The state has struggled to rein in vehicle pollution.

"To the Trump administration: make no mistake about it - we are ready to use every legal tool at our disposal to protect the current vehicle emission standards", Becerra said July 19, responding to reports the waiver might be revoked. "And because we are leaders, our standards have been adopted by more than a dozen states and the District of Columbia". With today's release of the Administration's proposals, it's time for substantive negotiations to begin. In the end, the White House approved taking a hard line, despite fears of some administration officials that their plan is based on weak evidence that will not hold up under court challenge. The timeline could then align with the finalization of the fuel efficiency changes, as the proposed rule still needs to work its way through a lengthy public comment process.

California Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat, called the proposal "reckless".

At issue is the Trump administration's release Thursday of its anticipated proposal to halt regulations tightening vehicle fuel efficiency and pollution standards, laying the groundwork for a nationwide battle over whether the federal government can preempt California's ability to set its own requirements. The administration also says that its preferred plan for fuel economy will reduce society-wide spending by $502 billion for vehicles built between 1975 and 2029.

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Vehicles are the single largest cause of emissions in the USA that cause global warming, recently surpassing the electricity sector.

But private transportation experts say there are so many factors involved that the 1,000-lives figure is questionable.

The greatest increase in greenhouse gas emissions would happen in the 2030s because electric cars will grow significantly by the 2040s, the Energy Innovation analysis found. The firm projects the policy would cost the USA economy $457 billion and cause 13,000 deaths by 2050, as air quality suffers.

The Trump administration is arguing that the multiple standards complicate regulation. The Trump administration's proposal would cut off the average CAFE increases in 2020, when automakers will have to produce cars that get an average of 43.7 miles per gallon. It also claims that lower new auto prices would mean more folks buying them and moving out of older, less safe cars. "They have failed before". "Their own numbers don't even support what I consider the deceptive messaging they're trying to pass on to people".

In a 978-page document (pdf) released on August 2, the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are also proposing to retract a waiver issued to California in 2013, which enabled the state to set its own stricter emissions standards. In May, California and 16 other states filed a preemptive lawsuit arguing the rollback would be illegal.

Dan Becker of the Safe Climate Campaign dismissed the Trump administration's arguments as a "parade of concocted horrors".

Automakers have said they want improved efficiency but also want standards that account for the massive shift from cars to trucks and SUVs. And when they fail they are prohibitively expensive to fix and often require someone akin to a rocket scientist to troubleshoot.

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