EPA Wants '50-State' Fix for Auto Efficiency

EPA Wants '50-State' Fix for Auto Efficiency

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

"There's no question it will be litigated at every turn, and no doubt it's going to make it to the Supreme Court", with its new mix of judges, possibly including President Donald Trump's latest nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, she added.

Trump named Wheeler, then the environmental agency's deputy administrator, as acting head after Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned this month amid unrelenting ethics scandals.

California was granted a waiver to the Clean Air Act from the moment the act was first drafted in 1970.

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Jeff Holmstead, a Washington-based lawyer and assistant EPA administrator during the George W. Bush administration, said he has heard the White House will seek public comment on a range of proposals, floating the idea of revoking California's authority but not formally proposing it.

The EPA and Transportation Department did not immediately provide comments on Monday.

California and other states have big stakes in Trump's decision and subsequent litigation, as do US and foreign automakers.

Eliminating California's electric vehicle mandate would hurt automakers like Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) and General Motors Co (GM.N) that are investing billions in EVs. "To do so, we advocate maintaining the current standards that would raise the average fuel economy of the USA light-duty vehicle fleet to a projected 50.8 mpg by 2025 based on the current USA light-duty vehicle fleet mix".

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Shortly after Trump's election, an auto industry lobbying group sent him a letter asking for more flexibility in the fuel-mileage program. Agencies are expected to claim it will reduce traffic fatalities by making it cheaper for drivers to replace older, less-safe cars, while paring sticker prices for new vehicles even if motorists have to spend more for gasoline. However, California and environmentalists have previously criticized that analysis. Although the state initially used that power to regulate smog-causing pollutants, it has become a key weapon in the state's fight against climate change.

In January, California Governor Jerry Brown set a new target of 5 million zero-emission vehicles in California by 2030, up from a prior goal of 1.5 million by 2025. Although California argues its rules are not fuel economy standards in word or practice, "they are very much related to fuel economy", Holmstead said. He has written extensively about administrative and environmental law. In May, California, 16 other states and the District of Columbia filed a federal suit aiming to preserve fuel economy standards expected to produce cleaner cars of the next decade. And yet, auto companies don't want California to once again have its own standard, if the Trump administration succeeded in rolling back federal fuel-economy standards but California was able to maintain its emissions requirements.

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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