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 PruittGovernment watchdog probing EPA’s handling of Hurricane Harvey response Wheeler won’t stop America’s addiction to fossil fuels Overnight Energy: Trump rolls back methane pollution rule | EPA watchdog to step down | China puts tariffs on US gas 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 TrumpHannity urges Trump not to fire 'anybody' after Rosenstein report Ben Carson appears to tie allegation against Kavanaugh to socialist plot Five takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's fiery first debate 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.