EPA pushes unified national fuel emissions standard

EPA pushes unified national fuel emissions standard
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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is pushing for a unified national fuel emissions standard for automobiles, a move that could significantly impact California's stringent car emissions standards.

EPA air and radiation head Bill Wehrum, speaking at the Washington Auto Show in Washington, D.C., Thursday, said the agency is leaning toward creating a national car standard. Wehrum told the crowd he was speaking on behalf of EPA Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittZinke left some details off public calendar: report EPA watchdog faults ‘management weaknesses’ in Flint water crisis House completes first half of 2019 spending bills MORE, who couldn't attend the event. 

"We’ve heard loud and clear that having one national program is really important," Wehrum said, describing how the EPA was approaching potentially revising the national fuel emissions standards.

"From a good, solid national and public policy standpoint, the very best outcome for all of us to achieve is one national program," he said.

A unified national fuel standard could have grave implications for California, a state that utilizes a waiver created under the Obama administration that allows it to set emissions standards more strict than the federal government's. 

The state in 2017 voted to push ahead with even stricter emissions standards for cars and trucks, a decision made in the face of President TrumpDonald John TrumpNFL freezes policy barring players from protesting during anthem McConnell spokesman on Putin visit: 'There is no invitation from Congress' Petition urges University of Virginia not to hire Marc Short MORE's vow to loosen regulations. 

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Wehrum acknowledged the potential conflict, saying the agency has "initiated talks" with California "with the intention and the goal of trying to achieve agreement as to whether changes should be made to the current (federal) standards"

He added "And if so, hopefully we'll work together to try to have a consistent and compatible program."

While Wehrum stopped short of saying the EPA was considering an option that would do away with the waiver program entirely, he said the EPA is considering whether adjustments to the current program need to be made, which is why it's communicating with the state.

Wehrum said the agency is on track to make its decision as to whether the federal standards will be changed by April 1.