Calif. to fight Trump’s ‘politically motivated’ car standards plan

Calif. to fight Trump’s ‘politically motivated’ car standards plan
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California officials promised Monday to put up a fight against the Trump administration’s newly announced decision to lower standards for car tailpipe emissions.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared Monday afternoon that the Obama-era greenhouse gas rules for cars made between 2022 and 2025 are too ambitious and should be eased.

That sets up a fight with the Golden State, which currently sets its own car emissions rules and has argued for stringent regulations. Twelve other states currently follow those rules, accounting for a third of the nation’s car market.

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“This is a politically motivated effort to weaken clean vehicle standards with no documentation, evidence or law to back up that decision,” Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), said in a statement. “This is not a technical assessment, it is a move to demolish the nation’s clean car program.

"EPA’s action, if implemented, will worsen people’s health with degraded air quality and undermine regulatory certainty for automakers.”

Nichols said her agency would “vigorously defend” the current standards. It will also use a 2009 waiver from the Obama administration to keep enforcing the rules planned through 2025.

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 said Monday that he is still deciding whether to preserve California’s authority to set its own rules or to revoke the waiver.

"Cooperative federalism doesn’t mean that one state can dictate standards for the rest of the country,” he said in a statement.

“EPA will set a national standard for greenhouse gas emissions that allows auto manufacturers to make cars that people both want and can afford — while still expanding environmental and safety benefits of newer cars," he said. "It is in America's best interest to have a national standard, and we look forward to partnering with all states, including California, as we work to finalize that standard.”

California Attorney General Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraIndustry wins big in methane rules rollback Overnight Energy: Watchdog to investigate EPA over Hurricane Harvey | Panel asks GAO to expand probe into sexual harassment in science | States sue over methane rules rollback Some states back plaintiff suing DHS over Haitians' protected status MORE (D) said Pruitt’s declaration Monday “risks our ability to protect our children’s health, tackle climate change, and save hardworking Americans money.”

Becerra said he and the CARB were still reviewing the EPA’s action but he is “ready to file suit if needed to protect these critical standards.”

Gov. Jerry Brown (D) called the move a “belated April Fools' Day trick.”

“This cynical and meretricious abuse of power will poison our air and jeopardize the health of all Americans,” he continued.

Rep. Doris MatsuiDoris Okada MatsuiOvernight Health Care: Opioids package nears finish line | Measure to help drug companies draws ire | Maryland ObamaCare rates to drop Overnight Health Care: HHS diverts funds to pay for detaining migrant children | Health officials defend transfers | Lawmakers consider easing drug company costs in opioids deal Lobbying world MORE (D-Calif.) joined in on Twitter, accusing Pruitt of “taking yet another step to undermine EPA’s mission of protecting clean air and public health & this time it will also cost drivers billions at the pump.”

— Miranda Green contributed to this story.