Overnight Energy: Trump moves to roll back Obama auto emissions standards | California vows to sue | Senate Dem looks to block plan in Congress

Overnight Energy: Trump moves to roll back Obama auto emissions standards | California vows to sue | Senate Dem looks to block plan in Congress
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TRUMP TO ROLL BACK OBAMA AUTO STANDARDS: The Trump administration took one of its biggest shots yet against President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBiden jokes about Obama memes: 'Barack did the first friendship bracelet, not me' Slain Saudi columnist upends 'Davos in the Desert' Sanders, Harris set to criss-cross Iowa MORE's environmental legacy Thursday, moving to roll back his landmark climate change and efficiency rules for cars and revoke California's ability to set its own standards.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) declared in their proposal that the heightened emissions standards set to take effect for cars built from 2021 and 2026 are unreasonable for both economic and safety reasons.

The Obama administration set the standards in 2012 as part of a set of rules meant to intensify from 2017 through 2026.


Instead, the EPA and DOT are now proposing freezing the standards at their planned 2020 level, canceling any future strengthening.

The agencies said new cars and light trucks built in 2020 through 2026 would average 37 miles per gallon under the proposed freeze. Obama's rule would have resulted in 54.5 miles per gallon by 2026.

While the freeze was known as the administration's preferred method, the agencies also floated a handful of other plans that could instead be adopted. All sought to weaken the emissions standards.

"We are delivering on President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump to fundraise for 3 Republicans running for open seats: report Trump to nominate former Monsanto exec to top Interior position White House aides hadn’t heard of Trump's new tax cut: report MORE's promise to the American public that his administration would address and fix the current fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards," said EPA acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler in a statement Thursday. "Our proposal aims to strike the right regulatory balance based on the most recent information and create a 50-state solution that will enable more Americans to afford newer, safer vehicles that pollute less."

High stakes: Transportation is the most significant source of carbon dioxide emissions in the nation, and the Obama rules were estimated to reduce emissions by 6 billion metric tons and reduce oil use by 2 million barrels per day.

The main arguments behind the administration's decision to roll back the Obama regulations are safety and economics.

In addition to the argument that car manufacturers will be unable to meet the fuel efficiency standards set forth in the Obama plan, the administration is arguing that more stringent standards will drive up the cost of new cars -- therefore leaving many drivers stuck with older models with lower safety standards.

"Already in the U.S. we have the oldest fleet in the nation's history, an average of 12 years old," Heidi King, deputy administrator at DOT's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), told reporters Thursday. "We want to get the newest technologies in the fleet in order to keep automobiles affordable for everyone. Most importantly, this rule promises to save lives."

What's next: Thursday's proposal will soon be published in the Federal Register, kicking off a 60-day period during which the public will be invited to submit comments. After that, the agencies will review the comments before making the plan final, at which time opponents could sue to stop the rollback.

The attorneys general of 19 states, led by California Attorney General Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraOvernight Energy: US greenhouse gas emissions fell in Trump's first year | EPA delays decision on science rule | Trump scolds California over wildfires EPA puts science ‘transparency’ rule on back burner Public charge rule is a cruel attack on children MORE (D), decided not to wait. They promised Thursday that they will sue once the roll back becomes final.

Read more on the administration's plan here.

And keep reading for more on the lawsuits...


Happy Thursday! Welcome to Overnight Energy, The Hill's roundup of the latest energy and environment news.

Please send tips and comments to Timothy Cama, tcama@thehill.com, and Miranda Green, mgreen@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @Timothy_Cama, @mirandacgreen, @thehill.


CALIFORNIA AND OTHER STATES PLEDGE TO SUE: California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) says he's already preparing a lawsuit against the planned rollback.

The administration's proposal would prevent the Golden State and the 12 other states that follow its standards, from setting their own more stringent standard.

Becerra said California and other states, including Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., will file a lawsuit as soon as they can.

On a call with reporters Thursday afternoon Becerra referenced the current wildfires blazing through California as proof that air pollution is already taking its toll.

"The pollution were all seeing, certainly here in la we see it everyday, that pollution if fueling the death and destruction," he said.

"We have led from the very beginning, and we will lead again when it comes to protecting the national standards for cleaner cars."

Read more.


DEM PLANS TO CHALLENGE ROLLBACK IN CONGRESS: Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyElection Countdown: O'Rourke goes on the attack | Takeaways from fiery second Texas Senate debate | Heitkamp apologizes for ad misidentifying abuse victims | Trump Jr. to rally for Manchin challenger | Rick Scott leaves trail to deal with hurricane damage Senate Dems ask Trump to disclose financial ties to Saudi Arabia Dems damp down hopes for climate change agenda MORE (D-Mass.) is likely to back legislation to stop the Trump administration's rollback of car emissions and efficiency regulations.

Markey told reporters that, once the rollbacks proposed Thursday by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation are made final, Democrats could propose overturning them through the Congressional Review Act (CRA).

"We're in a position to bring out, when they complete this rule, a Congressional Review Act vote on the floor of the United States Senate, and to build a national campaign around that effort to fight to defend efforts to change these rules," he said shortly after the rollback was proposed.

The CRA allows Congress to vote to overturn any regulation, even regulations that overturn past ones. It gives lawmakers 60 legislative days to overturn a regulation once it is finalized. The CRA only requires a simple majority of 51 votes for the Senate vote, but the House and president would also have to agree in order for it to take effect.

When he was in the House, Markey helped to write the 2007 energy conservation law that required the executive branch -- eventually the Obama administration -- to write the fuel economy rules at issue.

Read more.



Jeff Alson, a former career employee EPA's National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory, says ignoring the facts is the only way to justify the administration's new fuel standards.

Morgan Wright, former senior advisor in the U.S. State Department Antiterrorism Assistance Program, says that the U.S. energy grid is not prepared for Russia.



California wildfires roar into 'uncharted territory,' USA Today reports.

New Jersey is pursuing several lawsuits against industrial sites for alleged pollution violations, upping its environmental game, The New York Times reports.

The United Kingdom's government is being accused of burying a report that found higher levels of air pollution tied to fracking, The Guardian reports.



Check out Thursday's stories ...

-Trump moves to roll back Obama emission standards

-Senate Dem to try overturning Trump's car emissions rollback

-California to sue Trump administration over car emission rollback

-Schwarzenegger: Trump 'out of his mind' if he thinks he can revoke California's emissions waiver