Published: Thu, July 26, 2018
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

United States government wants to curb California emissions standards

United States government wants to curb California emissions standards

President Donald Trump's administration is advancing a plan to freeze fuel-economy standards for new cars and trucks, and to escalate its fight against California's power to set regulatory standards for the entire USA auto market, according to people familiar with the matter.

So, if you're like us, you probably figured that the Trump administration's attack on federal fuel economy guidelines and California's right to set its own vehicle emissions standards went the way of the buffalo when Scott Pruitt got kicked to the curb, but we were wrong.

According to Bloomberg, there will be a 90-day comment period after the EPA proposes the elimination of California's waiver.

California and other states have big stakes in Trump's decision and subsequent litigation, as do US and foreign automakers. The proposed rollback of emissions standards is not expected to change substantially.

Since rumors of the action by the Trump administration stated circling on July 18, the market capitalization of electric vehicle leader Tesla, Inc. has fallen by about $4.7 billion. Once the agencies formally unveil the proposal, the public will have a chance to weigh in, with those comments used to develop a final rule that could be implemented as soon as the end of the year. Instead, Trump's plan will cap federal fuel economy requirements at the 2020 level, meaning at least 35mpg fleet average rather than roughly 50mpg by 2025 as envisioned in the plan left behind by the previous administration. It also sets up a high-stakes battle over California's unique ability to combat air pollution and, if finalized, is sure to set off a protracted courtroom battle.

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"It's an open question whether that provision (in the Clean Air Act) was meant to only deal with local pollution involving extraordinary conditions", said Sivas, who was an attorney for Earth Justice, an environmental law firm.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) manages the the state's ZEV program, although it has also been adopted by Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and the District of Columbia and now Colorado.

President Trump, in his May meeting with auto executives, directed his cabinet officials to pursue an emissions deal with California. "And it is clear this administration wants to undo this American success story while degrading air quality standards nationwide and costing American families more money at the fuel pump".

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler said on Tuesday that the agency wanted a "50-state solution" to the nation's vehicle emissions standards and would also pursue reforms to the country's biofuel policy. "It's a dumb move for an administration that claims it wants peace, because this will lead to an emissions war: progressive states versus a reactionary federal government". Jerry Brown said at a news conference announcing the lawsuit. The Bush administration sued, arguing that the move would require tightening fuel-economy standards, which were under federal control.

Some conservatives have long chafed at the rare authority granted California and welcome the effort to revoke.

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