Our communities can’t afford the Trump rollback of cleaner car standards
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The fires that have raged across California this summer are a deadly, daily, and terrifying reminder of why California must lead on climate policy.

According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, human caused climate change has affected, and will continue to intensify, the potential for wildfires in the Western United States. That’s because increasingly higher temperatures and more severe droughts are creating a combination of circumstances that make our forests and shrublands more vulnerable to large fires.

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And yet, as wildfires in California and natural disasters across the country proliferate, the Trump administration is rolling back one of the most important tools we have in mitigating the effects of our changing climate.

The transportation sector is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, and it is the only sector in which the United States has become less energy efficient over the last 15 years. That’s why the Obama administration’s work to increase auto fuel economy and decrease auto greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through 2025 remains so important to combating human-caused climate change that contributes to natural disasters like the wildfires in California.

The Trump administration is moving to reverse much of our progress on climate change with their recent proposal to flat line the current fuel economy and GHG standards at the 2020 level.

And, in the meantime, the administration is also trying to limit the ability of states like California to set their own emissions standards. Our state not only has to contend with increased wildfires. Certain areas of the state also have some of the most polluted air in the country, which has an adverse effect on public health and the environment. California has a statutory, and importantly, a moral obligation to do everything we can to defend policies that protect the welfare of our residents who must deal with these devastating impacts. That’s why the work of the California Air Resources Board to exercise our waiver to keep higher standards has been so important.

But this is not just about protecting the environment and public health. It’s about keeping our nation competitive. The rest of the world will move ahead with the development of fuel-efficient vehicle technology even if we don’t.

According to the Blue Green Alliance, 288,000 American workers in 48 states are employed building technology for innovative cars. Why would we hamper such an important investment in the future of our workforce?

American workers, the health of future generations, our economic competitiveness, and our ability to fight the natural disasters in California that are being fueled by climate change all stand to benefit from strong fuel economy standards. That’s why I introduced the Clean and Efficient Cars Act with 19 of my colleagues on the Energy and Commerce Committee. My bill would codify the existing light-duty vehicle GHG emissions and Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards for model years 2021-2025. It would also block the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation from creating loopholes in the standards.

Reversing commonsense climate policies during such an urgent moment for California, our nation, and our world is reckless. I call on my colleagues to continue to stand strong against the Trump administration’s proposal to weaken fuel economy standards. Our communities can’t afford for us to wait to act on climate.

Matsui represents California’s 6th District and is a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee.