The Trump administration appears to be making good on its threat to unwind federal fuel economy standards put into place under President Obama.
California will fight the rules change, according to Dan Sperling of the state's Air Resources Board.
California was granted a waiver to the Clean Air Act from the moment the act was first drafted in 1970.
California is considered an environmentally conscious, "green" state, and the announcement is already being targeted by politicians. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said that he is "ready to use every legal tool at our disposal to protect the current vehicle emission standards". A poll conducted a year ago by the Public Policy Institute of California, for example, found that clear majorities of Californians support enacting tougher emissions standards, allowing California to enact its own emissions standards, and requiring that 100% of the state's energy be generated by renewable sources such as wind or solar power by 2045. If President Trump gets his way, California will no longer be able to force automakers to achieve specific fuel economy mandates that aren't inline with federal rules.
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On social media, some noted that Trump's attack on California's ability to regulate emissions on its own roads flies in the face of conservative arguments in favor of "states' rights"-often invoked in debates over states' ability to regulate abortion access and LGBTQ rights, as well as racial integration and slavery in the past". After the Obama administration bailed out much of the US auto industry immediately after the 2008 recession, it pressured automakers to agree to a 2011 plan to increase fuel efficiency by 2025, to an average of 54.5 miles per gallon.
California officials have long said they will sue if the Environmental Protection Agency makes good on the threat.
Shortly after Trump's election, an auto industry lobbying group sent him a letter asking for more flexibility in the fuel-mileage program. Those standards were scheduled to jump to 50mpg by 2025. The waiver was granted at a time when California suffered some of the worst smog problems in the country.
"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. Whether California can argue that economy standards and emissions are tied will determine the overall outcome of the case.
The issue is complicated by the fact that California is not alone in its pursuit of more stringent emissions standards. And yet, auto companies don't want California to once again have its own standard, if the Trump administration succeeded in rolling back federal fuel-economy standards but California was able to maintain its emissions requirements. Other states, primarily on the West Coast, follow California's lead on emissions regulations, and its regulatory influence has grown as concerns about climate change have taken root among American voters.