EPA threatens to revoke California auto emission standards

WASHINGTON – The Trump administration Monday threatened to revoke California’s ability to impose stricter vehicle admission standards than the federal government, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“Cooperative federalism doesn’t mean that one state can dictate standards for the rest of the country,” Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt said in a statement.

“EPA will set a national standard for greenhouse gas emissions that allows auto manufacturers to make cars that people both want and can afford — while still expanding environmental and safety benefits of newer cars. It’s in everyone’s best interest to have a national standard, and we look forward to working with all states, including California, as we work to finalize that standard.”

The announcement from Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt came as the agency confirmed it was abandoning the federal goal of having vehicles average average 55 miles per gallon fuel consumption by 2025. The agency said it will decide on a lower fuel economy standard at a later date.

California Gov. Jerry Brown blasted the federal statement on auto emission rules as a “belated April Fools’ Day trick.”

“This cynical and meretricious abuse of power will poison our air and jeopardize the health of all Americans,” the governor said in a statement.

Officials in California made clear Monday they’re not prepared to drop their tougher standards.

“We’re ready to file suit if needed to protect these critical standards and to fight the Administration’s war on our environment,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

Some advocates of better fuel economy worry that even if the California standards remain in place, the automakers will sell less fuel efficient cars and trucks in the two-thirds of the nation that isn’t covered by those rules.

“They may dump dirty cars on two-thirds of the nation,” said David Friedman, director of car policy for Consumers Union, the advocacy division of Consumer Reports.

The original rule called for EPA to reevaluate the new, tougher standards part way through the process to see if they were realistic. But just before Obama left office, the EPA determined that the rule should stand as it was originally designed.

“The Obama Administration’s determination was wrong,” said Pruitt Monday. “Obama’s EPA cut the midterm evaluation process short with politically charged expediency, made assumptions about the standards that didn’t comport with reality, and set the standards too high.”

Pruitt has advocated rolling back a number of environmental rules at the bequest of various industries. He said last year he wanted to review the new emissions rules, so Monday’s action had been expected.

The statement Monday didn’t provide any specifics about what the new rules will entail.

Critics of Pruitt and the Trump EPA argue that automakers are better off making cars and trucks with better fuel economy.

“Fuel efficiency sells vehicles. Rolling back standards will curb the sale of vehicles,” said Jack Gillis, director of public affairs at the Consumer Federation of America.