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article imageReview of EPA fuel standards sets up battle with California

By Karen Graham     Mar 16, 2017 in Politics
Sacramento - Automakers are hailing President Trump's call on Wednesday to have the EPA review and possibly rollback the nation's fuel efficiency standards. Should that happen, there is going to be a huge battle, and the lines have already been drawn.
As a first step in lowering the emissions standards nationwide, Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Elaine Chao and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt issued a notice of intent to reconsider the standards, reports the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
There has been a lot of talk about the auto industry not being able to meet the tougher 2022-2025 car pollution rules, even though both federal agencies, along with California were in agreement that the standards could be met by automakers.
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And we won't go into the claim by automakers that the rules are expensive and could cost American jobs because that has proven to be untrue.
Many people forget that the standards were designed to not only help decrease carbon emissions, but save consumers money at the gas pump, make Americans less dependent on oil, and advance innovation in the auto industry.
Trump administration versus the CARB states
The EPA and DOT will have to do battle with California and 12 other states and the District of Columbia if the agencies decide to rollback the emission and fuel efficiency standards. A clash between the Trump administration and California could end up with the country having one set of national standards and another set of standards for California.
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) standards came about because of severe motor vehicle air pollution problems in Los Angeles. Because EPA regulations allow for states to ask for waivers if they want stricter standards, this is what California did. The EPA granted their request and soon, other states opted to follow California's standards.
Now, California and over a dozen states, including Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico (2011 model year), New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia have adopted the tougher California standards.
They are known as CARB states. All told, the CARB standards are benefiting 113 million U.S. residents (or 35 percent of the U.S. population) and cover 35 percent of the passenger vehicle market. So it's easy to see that this distinction between the rest of the country and CARB states could end up becoming a thorn in the side of the automotive industry.
California governor will not back down
Reuters is reporting that California's Governor Jerry Brown has already promised he will lead the fight against Trump's efforts to squash environmental rules, a stance that is echoed by the state Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols.
“We intend to stick by the commitments that we made. If for some reason the federal government and the industry decide to abandon those agreements that we all reached, we will have to re-examine our options," she said in an interview. "If the issue is are they going to relax the standards, then we would vehemently oppose that.”
More about epa fual standards, california waiver, dept of transportation, two sets of rules, Automakers
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