19 states, DC plan to sue the government over proposed emissions rollback

Ismael LynchAug 03, 2018

The Trump administration on Thursday proposed weakening Obama-era mileage standards created to make cars more fuel efficient and less polluting, a major rollback already being challenged in the courts by California and other states. This means that automakers would need to maintain a fleet average of 35 miles per gallon, rather than achieving the previous proposal of reaching 50 mpg in 2025, according to Automotive News.

Nineteen US states have announced plans to sue the Trump administration over its "reckless and illegal plan" to rollback Obama-era clean auto rules.

Their unease was reflected in a statement released by Gloria Bergquist, vice president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which urged negotiations between California and the federal government "to find a common sense solution that sets continued increases in vehicle efficiency standards while also meeting the needs of America's drivers".

They also propose to revoke California's authority under the Clean Air Act that has allowed the state to set rules more stringent than the federal ones limiting tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions as well as an electric-vehicle sales mandate.

It's got "everything to do with just trying to turn over the fleet. and get more clean and safe cars on the road", said Bill Wehrum, assistant administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

"We are prepared to go to court to put the brakes on this reckless and illegal plan", the coalition of states attorneys, led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, said in a news release.

'California will fight this stupidity in every conceivable way possible'.

Fuel efficiency standards were first introduced in 1975 and are estimated to have saved Americans more than $2tn in fuel costs since then.

Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler says the proposal would make cars more affordable and save lives.

The administration asserts the freeze will also improve vehicle affordability "leading to increased use of newer, safer, cleaner and more efficient vehicles".

But in a recent joint proposal, EPA and the Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that calls for "a much-needed time-out from further, costly increases" in Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) and Light-Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards.

"This has to be absolutely one of the most harmful and dumbest actions that the EPA has taken", said Healey of MA, one of the attorneys general from 19 states and the District of Columbia objecting to the change.

"More realistic standards will promote a healthy economy by bringing newer, safer, cleaner and more fuel-efficient vehicles to United States roads", said Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. Consumers Union, the advocacy division of Consumer Reports, said consumers could save between $3,200 per auto and $4,800 per truck over the life of the vehicle under that standard, and that they would save even more if gas prices go up.

All of this could be somewhat mitigated if California can set stronger standards; at the moment, the state and federal standard are the same. These changes were expected under the administration of President Donald Trump, who has said that fuel economy standards were imposing greater costs on the average consumer.

California joined 16 other states and the District of Columbia in suing the EPA in May, asking the court to review the EPA's proposed actions.

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