Published: Thu, July 26, 2018
Research | By Sheri Schwartz

USA to propose revoking California authority to set auto emissions rules

USA to propose revoking California authority to set auto emissions rules

So, if you're like us, you probably figured that the Trump administration's attack on federal fuel economy guidelines and California's right to set its own vehicle emissions standards went the way of the buffalo when Scott Pruitt got kicked to the curb, but we were wrong.

California has joined 16 other states and the District of Columbia to sue the EPA to try to block any weakening of the standards.

The proposal is still in the final stages of a broad interagency review led by President Donald Trump's Office of Management and Budget, but these major elements of the plan were not expected to change, the people said. The EPA and the federal transportation department will unveil a proposed legislation for the state, which will then be open for debate, before the agency makes a decision.

California is considered an environmentally conscious, "green" state, and the announcement is already being targeted by politicians. This will be a frontal assault on one of the previous administration's signature policies to cut down greenhouse gas emissions.

And a long legal fight between the state and federal governments could make it hard for the automakers to plan, since the process of designing, engineering and introducing a new auto typically takes more than three years, Brauer said.

In May, California and a group of 16 other states challenged the Trump administration's decision to reopen strict US vehicle emissions rules for review.

The administration draft says the proposal would save up to 1,000 highway deaths annually by reducing the cost of new vehicles and prodding people to buy new safer cars faster, the source said.

The move would also eliminate California's ability to mandate the purchase of electric vehicles, Reuters reported.

If the Trump administration challenges California's long-standing latitude to set its own emissions rules, it would be wading into untested legal waters, said Deborah Sivas, a law professor and expert on the Clean Air Act at Stanford University. The automakers say the California Air Resources Board rules for vehicle model years 2022-2025 are onerous and impractical, despite a CARB analysis in 2017 concluding that the standards are technologically feasible. The state's large population and geography contribute to serious smog problems, he said, but "when it comes to Carbon dioxide emissions, you know, California's really in the same place as anyone else".

The proposed regulations revamp will also stop the current federal rules aiming to boost fuel efficiency into the next decade. Although California argues its rules are not fuel economy standards in word or practice, "they are very much related to fuel economy", Holmstead said.

The issue is complicated by the fact that California is not alone in its pursuit of more stringent emissions standards.

NHTSA will likely assert that California no longer can impose its own greenhouse gas emissions from autos under the 1975 law that established the first federal fuel-efficiency requirements.

The Trump administration has made rolling back Obama's environmental and climate programs a high priority.

For its part, the American Trucking Associations said that although the current Trump administration moves are targeting passenger cars, it will be keeping an eye for new developments that affect the trucking industry.

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