Trump Administration Rolls Back Obama’s Strict Emissions Standards

A view of traffic on the 710 Freeway in Long Beach Calif

A view of traffic on the 710 Freeway in Long Beach Calif

"This has to be absolutely one of the most harmful and dumbest actions that the EPA has taken", said Healey of MA, one of the attorneys general from 19 states and the District of Columbia objecting to the change. It could also become a polarizing issue in elections in November. California attorney general Xavier Becerra said in a statement, "The Trump administration has launched a brazen and unlawful attack on our nation's clean vehicle standards". California "will use every legal tool at its disposal" to defend strict standards, he said in a statement.

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.

President Donald Trump had called previous year for a review of mileage standards, expressing concern they were hurting employment in the US auto industry.

It also dovetails with the Republican president's broader effort to unwind green regulation, much of it enacted by Democratic former President Barack Obama's administration.

"Given the number of states that follow California's lead, mostly in the Northeast and Northwest, auto makers say they fear the Trump administration's aggressive rollback of fuel-economy standards will force states to go their own ways".

In addition to easing the emissions and mileage requirements for new light vehicles, the federal proposal also calls for withdrawing a waiver granted to the state of California in 2013 allowing the state to set its own air quality standards. "Unless the Obama administration's punishing standards are changed, consumer choice will be limited and the cost of vehicles will skyrocket". Compounded by tariffs on building materials and the cars and trucks themselves, the rising prices may level off as manufacturers do not need to pass the cost of greater efficiency to the consumer any longer.

"Today's decision goes against the conclusion from experts that stringent clean-car standards are in the best interests of all Americans, protecting them from unnecessarily high fuel costs, respiratory and other health problems caused by pollution, and climate change, " said Emily Lewis, a policy analyst at the Acadia Center, a research and advocacy group pushing clean energy.

The administration must gather feedback on the proposal before it is finalized, a process that could take months and that could be further delayed by lawsuits.

Administration officials said the Obama rules added $2,340 to the cost of owning a new auto and that more Americans have been priced out of the market for new vehicles. Toyota Motor Corp would save $34 billion and Volkswagen AG $20 billion.

As you would expect, "environmental groups who support the gas mileage standards, consumer advocacy groups, and medical associations that aim to reduce air pollution slammed the proposal", reports Stephanie Ebbs for ABC News.

The administration also contends that hiking USA oil consumption by 2 to 3 percent over forecast levels would have a minimal impact on the environment, boosting global average temperature by just "3/1000th of a degree Celsius by 2100".

The Trump administration proposal said California's zero emission vehicle rules, adopted by nine other states, are "technologically infeasible".

The governor of California, Jerry Brown, said his state was prepared to fight. Now they're only about one-third, with less-efficient trucks and SUVS making up the rest. In scrapping it, the administration is relying on disputed modeling that projects vehicles that get more miles to the gallon would lead motorists to drive more frequently, thus increasing the number of traffic fatalities.

Some middle ground might be possible.

Speaking to a Senate panel Wednesday, Wheeler, the acting head of the EPA, said he would like to find a way to avoid a legal showdown with California.

Bill Wehrum, an assistant EPA administrator, told reporters on Thursday that many things had changed, including a drop in fuel prices, since the efficiency rules were last set six years ago.

California has set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

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

The lawsuit was never ruled on - the state dropped it after President Obama took office and negotiated with automakers and California on the very same rules that the Trump administration is now attempting to repeal.

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