Trump proposal would end California's tougher vehicle emission standards

Gwen Vasquez
July 26, 2018

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. The office of Gov.

In 2009, California received a waiver from the EPA, allowing it to set its own limits on greenhouse gases from vehicles, effectively mandating that vehicles sold in California burn less fossil fuel.

The proposed revamp would also put the brakes on federal rules to boost fuel efficiency into the next decade, said the people, who asked to not be identified discussing the proposals before they are public.

Messages seeking comment from OMB, NHTSA and the EPA were not immediately returned. But instead of pursuing a deal, the plan spearheaded by the Transportation Department and the Environmental Protection Agency will attempt to eliminate or override California's emissions authority and force the state to adopt less-stringent federal pollution standards. Yet the federal government, under Obama, already approved California's emission standards - and the underlying fuel standards - for vehicle model years 2017 through 2025.

The Trump administration has made rolling back Obama's environmental and climate programs a high priority.

This week, the California Air Resources Control Board (CARB) announced the state had reduced its carbon emissions by 13% percent since 2004, dropping below 1990 levels for the first time, and reaching its target four years early.

California has the highest sales of electric vehicles in the country, with 50 percent of all US electric vehicles being sold in the state.

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"We don't want to see two different standards for the country", Wheeler said.

The administration's actions could place automakers in a bind. But the prospect of an across-the-board freeze - and another protracted fight between California and the federal government - appears to have unnerved the industry.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which sent Trump the letter, on Monday referred to a statement the group issued in April, which praised the administration for revisiting the standards but said the companies remain committed to increasing mileage.

"The big question: Who will the auto companies back?" "They're in a tough spot".

Wheeler said he met last week with Mary Nichols, the head of California' Air Resource Board, and shared the administration's opinion.

Sivas said the argument over federal pre-emption will likely be part of any future court case, but is weaker than the legal theory that California does not face "extraordinary circumstances" is setting its own greenhouse gas rules.

Critics of the Obama era plan to increase average fuel economy to 54.5 mpg have called it a thinly disguised effort to force people to adopt more expensive electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, as the average is hard for automakers to achieve with a model line-up of fossil fuel-powered vehicles. "That means uncertainty, and uncertainty is synonymous with expense in the auto industry".

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