California fights back against EPA proposals on vehicles

Aug. 3 (UPI) — California’s attorney general said the state would use every legal tool at its disposal to block President Trump’s efforts to weaken fuel economy standards.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday proposed a 37 mile per gallon average for cars and light-duty trucks by 2026. That’s far less stringent than a mandate enacted under former President Barack Obama for 54.5 mpg by 2025. Under Thursday’s proposal, the EPA also confirmed plans to strip California of its authority to set its own fuel economy levels for vehicles, citing a 50-state solution in the proposal.

The average fuel economy during Obama’s tenure was around 25 mpg. The government estimated that switching from a vehicle that gets 20 mpg to one that gets 25 mpg decreases greenhouse gas emissions by about 1.7 tons per year.

The transportation sector is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

California Gov. Jerry Brown shamed the Trump administration for targeting efforts to control vehicle emissions he said were first introduced by then California Gov. Ronald Reagan. Using the power of the state office, Brown said he’d fight Trump’s “stupidity” in every way possible.

“The California Department of Justice will use every legal tool at its disposal to defend today’s national standards and reaffirm the science behind them,” added Attorney General Becerra in a statement.

In May, a coalition of 17 states and the District of Columbia sued the EPA when it first raised the roll back. Former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt at the time said the Obama administration’s guidance was politically motivated.

By then, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein said the EPA was already ignoring a 1,200-page analysis supporting the current standards.

In response to the EPA’s formal proposal, the National Automobile Dealers Association said it was supportive of the “extensive work” that went into the decision to roll back Obama guidelines. Thomas Pyle, the president of the American Energy Alliance, said Trump should be congratulated for taking the right steps on oversight.

“The fundamental question associated with this mandate is clear: who should decide what types of cars consumers should buy, consumers themselves or bureaucrats in Sacramento or Washington? ” he asked.

In an editorial in The Wall Street Journal, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler added that the Trump administration was working to support consumer interests with its national proposal.

“A key goal of this rule-making is to reduce the barriers to enabling Americans to purchase newer, safer, cleaner cars,” they wrote.

The administration’s effort on emissions comes amid global trade tensions. During a July meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Trump kept tariffs on imported automobiles on the table amid broader détente.

In its second quarter earnings report, Ford Motor Co.’s president and CEO said these times were particularly challenging for the industry.

“Solid results were achieved in North America, but those were “offset in part by unexpected challenges with our overseas operations and headwinds in the business environment,” Jim Hackett said in a statement.

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