Published: Sun, August 05, 2018
Research | By Jennifer Evans

US States Vow to Fight Trump Rollback on Auto Emissions

US States Vow to Fight Trump Rollback on Auto Emissions

The Trump administration proposed on Thursday to rescind an Obama-era regulation that aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by requiring automakers to design vehicles that would average 50 miles per gallon by 2025.

Since the Trump Administration announced its intent to roll back current fuel standards, Congressman DeSaulnier called for a national boycott of any company that does not commit to maintaining the Obama or CARB standards, urged California's public retirement funds to divest from companies that participate in the rollback, led a group of Democratic Members from California in echoing his call for public divestment, and called on automobile manufactures to clarify how they will respond to such a rollback.

If the proposed rule becomes final, it could roil the auto industry as it prepares for new model years and weaken one of the federal government's chief weapons against climate change - regulating emissions from cars and other vehicles.

Opponents say the result will be dirtier air and more pollution-related illness and death.

The administration also said it wants to revoke an authority granted to California under the half-century-old Clean Air Act to set its own, tougher mileage standards.

To do this, federal officials argue that lawmakers intended the Clean Air Act waivers for California to address smog, not climate change.

The proposed change, halting further improvement requirements, stakes its case on consumer choice and on highway safety claims challenged by many transportation experts.

California has set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. And that, it said, would get vehicles with the latest technology into the hands of consumers more quickly.

William Wehrum, the EPA's assistant administrator for Air and Radiation, added, "There is a tension between calling for ever-increasing efficiency standards on one hand, and the obligation to have safe vehicles on the road".

Cost Americans between $193 billion and $236 billion more at the pump through 2035.

This week's publication of the proposed rule in the federal register opens up the next legal step in the Trump administration's procession toward undoing the Obama rule.

While the chief executives of auto companies past year asked Trump to loosen the Obama-era rules, they have since asked him not to pull them as far back as he has sought to do in Thursday's proposal.

"I think the facts that we have - that the EPA itself used a few years ago to set these national standards - are going to overwhelm any type of information that the Trump administration tries to proffer as real facts", Becerra said. Those losses would hit the estimated 200,000 that deal with making vehicles more fuel efficient, said Simon Mui of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

"They don't offer any meaningful example of what has changed so dramatically" to warrant the reversal, said Jeff Alson, who until this spring was a senior engineer in the EPA's transportation and air quality office. "Arnold Schwarzenegger, represented by then-California Attorney General Jerry Brown", Frank said. The argument remained on the EPA's website Thursday. "But the Trump administration made it clear that it believes the Obama administration's 2012 decision to implement aggressive fuel economy regulations hasn't aged well", write Todd Spangler and Nathan Bomey for the Detroit Free Press and USA Today.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra speaks at UCLA about his efforts to fight the Trump administration's proposal to weaken auto efficiency fuel standards in Los Angeles on Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018.

The attorneys general, as well as a wide range of environmental groups, lashed out at the proposal introduced Thursday by the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The affordability argument also ignores thousands of dollars of saving in fuel costs for each driver over the life of a auto, opponents of the rollbacks said.

Implementing that "50-state solution" is nearly certain to come into conflict with California's statewide mileage requirements, which are stricter than the federal government's. The CARB standards have since been adopted by 12 other states, accounting for 35 percent of the USA auto market, and are on track to reduce America's oil dependence by more than 2 million barrels a day and will effectively eliminate the impact of 59 million vehicles from the road by 2030.

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