Dems: Congress rejected part of Trump’s car emissions rollback

Dems: Congress rejected part of Trump’s car emissions rollback
© Greg Nash

A trio of Senate Democrats says Congress has specifically rejected the Trump administration’s argument that California doesn’t have the authority to set its own greenhouse gas emissions for cars.

Sens. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperLobbying World Overnight Energy: BLM staff face choice of relocation or resignation as agency moves | Trump says he's 'very much into climate' | EPA rule would expand limits on scientific studies Democrats give Warren's 'Medicare for All' plan the cold shoulder MORE (D-Del.), Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeySenators grill safety regulator over self-driving cars Hillicon Valley: Twitter shares more details on political ad rules | Supreme Court takes up Google-Oracle fight | Pentagon chief defends Microsoft cloud contract House, Senate announce agreement on anti-robocall bill MORE (D-Mass.) and Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinGOP senator blocks vote on House-passed Violence Against Women Act Congress feels heat to act on youth vaping GOP senator wants Violence Against Women Act passage by year end MORE (D-Calif.) wrote to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acting head Andrew Wheeler and Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoDemocratic chairman presses Transportation secretary over transparency in Boeing 737 Max probe Lawmakers toast Greta Van Susteren's new show Democratic lawmaker asks for probe of reports Chao favored Kentucky officials MORE with what they say is evidence that lawmakers turned down the opportunity to preempt California’s authority in 2007, when debating a major energy conservation bill.

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It is a pushback against the administration’s proposal, released this summer, to revoke California’s authority. That revocation is part of a larger proposal, dubbed the Safer Affordable Fuel Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles rule, that would stop federal car efficiency and emissions rules from getting stronger between 2021 and 2026, as the Obama administration had envisioned.

“As elected officials who were deeply involved in the negotiation of the fuel economy provisions of [the Energy Independence and Security Act], we can attest to Congress’ intent that California’s authority under the Clean Air Act be preserved,” they wrote.

The senators said their evidence demonstrates “unequivocally that in the month before EISA was enacted, there were reported efforts on the part of the automobile industry, some members of Congress and the Bush administration to preempt, limit or otherwise constrain both EPA’s and California’s authority under the Clean Air Act.”

All the efforts were “rejected” and didn’t make it to the final law, they said.

When the 2007 bill was being debated, some in industry and some lawmakers were worried that the EPA, the Department of Transportation (DOT) and California would have overlapping or conflicting regulations on car efficiency.

The Obama administration resolved the potential issue by having both agencies and California agree to negotiate regulations together. But the Trump administration wants to undo that and revoke California’s authority to set separate rules.