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article imageTrump launches full-scale attack on California emissions rule

By Karen Graham     Sep 6, 2019 in Politics
Sacramento - The Trump administration on Friday launched an all-out assault on California’s authority to set its own automotive emissions standards in a battle over mileage rules, as government agencies opened an antitrust investigation against five automakers.
It appears that Trump's latest "right-hand man," Larry Kudlow, has been busy because he confirmed on Friday the Trump administration’s push for one national standard that relaxes the fuel economy standards mandated under the Obama administration through 2025, saying they will be “released shortly.”
“In our judgment, the prior administration’s rulemaking here was excessive, was erroneous and was not built on proper cost-benefit analysis,” he said on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.” “Now, we will have our discussions with the state of California. We want one standard for the whole country.”
Additionally, lawyers at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) on Friday sent a letter to the chairman of the California Air Resources Board, basically telling the board that the "deal" the state made with five automakers was illegal, according to CBS News.
White House economic aide Larry Kudlow  pictured July 2018  warns not to "underestimate" T...
White House economic aide Larry Kudlow, pictured July 2018, warns not to "underestimate" Trump on trade, but a dip in auto exports and rising oil prices has increased the gap between US imports and exports, causing the US trade deficit to swell
"The purpose of this letter is to put California on notice that this framework agreement appears to be inconsistent with federal law," the letter said. "Congress has squarely vested the authority to set fuel economy standards for new motor vehicles, and nationwide standards for GHG vehicle emissions, with the federal government, not with California or any other state."
In July, Ford, Volkswagen, BMW, and Honda reached a deal with California to increase gas mileage standards and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, setting a national standard. The following month, Toyota, Fiat Chrysler, and General Motors were all called to the White House to meet with a senior advisor to Trump, who tried to get the automakers to stand by the president’s own initiative, according to four people familiar with the talks.
About the same time, it was learned that Mercedes-Benz would be the next company to agree to California's voluntary emissions rules,
Morning commute traffic moves westbound on the western span of the San Francisco Bay Bridge Septembe...
Morning commute traffic moves westbound on the western span of the San Francisco Bay Bridge September 8, 2009 in San Francisco, California
Ford, Honda, and BMW have confirmed receiving a letter from the U.S. Justice Department informing them of an antitrust inquiry into the July deal. Volkswagen declined to comment on the probe, saying that it’s in regular contact with U.S. authorities.
The DOJ declined to comment, as did the EPA, according to the Associated Press. However, former EPA attorneys who had worked on the emissions standards questioned the administration’s legal arguments Friday.
In the 1970s, Congress granted California authority, through a waiver in the Clean Air Act, to pursue tougher automobile emissions standards, in a nod to the state’s battles with smog. Other states were also allowed to follow California's tougher standards.
“It’s crystal clear that it’s very hard to deny California a waiver” from national automobile emissions standards, said John Hannon, a retired EPA lawyer with decades of experience in the matter. “Congress set it up to give incredible deference to California’s authority to protect the health and safety of its residents,” Hannon said, referring to the Clean Air Act.
More about emissions rules, antitrust investigation, Automakers, competition law, Trump administration
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