Dems Rip Page From GOP Playbook to Fight Trump's Pollution Rollback

EPA moves to scrap Obama-era clean car rules and sets up fight with California

The EPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said the administration supports freezing the mileage standards after 2020, but would seek public comment now on that proposal and a range of others, including leaving the tighter, Obama administration fuel standards in place. The 54 mile per gallon rule might sound high, but when automakers factor in government credits and other loop holes, experts said that the average will be closer to 36 miles per gallon.

"We are going to remain committed to improving fuel economy, reducing emissions and working toward an all-electric future, but we believe it is in everybody's best interest to have one national set of requirement that comprehends the new technologies", she said.

'For 48 years-since one of my heroes, then-governor Ronald Reagan, requested it-California has had a waiver from the federal government to clean our own air, ' the former governor tweeted on Thursday. "And because we are leaders, our standards have been adopted by more than a dozen states and the District of Columbia".

The lawsuit is being lead by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra who said "The Trump Administration has launched a brazen and unlawful attack, no matter how cloaked, on our nation's Clean Car Standards". "Households don't have a choice in what they pay at the pump so they need fuel efficient choices at the dealership, whether it's a auto, truck or SUV". "We urge 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", the Auto Alliance and Global Automakers, two of the top auto lobbying groups, said in a statement. The plunge in natural gas prices and other market forces have steadily lowered the climate impact of utilities, but transportation is proving more stubborn.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) tweeted soon after the White House announced the policy change that she saw this as proof that the Trump administration was prioritizing "lining the pockets of big oil over protecting our right to breathe clean air".

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"I hope some conservatives with a conscience will act in Washington to defend California's waiver based on these historic Republican values", he said.

Chet France, an EPA senior executive until his retirement in 2012, called the administration's contention that the mileage freeze would cause only a tiny increase in climate-changing exhaust emissions "bogus".

The rollback has provoked outcry from environmental and health groups, as well as states who are pushing for cleaner vehicle fleets. In a long-anticipated effort to to roll back the Obama administration's emissions standards, Trump's EPA and Department of Transportation argued - they really did - that providing a more lax standard would lower the price of new cars, in turn saving lives because, they reason, crashes will occur between less fuel-efficient (heavier) vehicles that still have modern safety standards.

Besides, California - which is essentially now a foreign country - should not control the auto market and decide pollution and mileage standards for the rest of the country. The proposal also claims it will save up to 1,000 lives a year by encouraging people to buy safer, newer cars to replace older, less-safe cars.

Pollution from cars, trucks and other on-road vehicles is the California's single-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, according to state data. The less stringent standards would apply to model years between 2021 and 2026. "Kicking California bullies out of the fuel economy playground will expand consumer choice, while making new cars more affordable".

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