The Trump administration announced its plans to implement nationwide uniform fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission standards for automobiles and light duty trucks. The new rule aims to prohibit states from imposing their own stricter standards.
As a first step towards finalizing the proposed Safer, Affordable, Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule, the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Thursday issued the “One National Program Rule”.
It paves the way for a possible legal battle between the state of California and the federal government, which earlier this week had challenged the Golden State’s ability to do so.
Claiming that the move will lead to safer and less expensive cars, President Donald Trump on Wednesday revoked California’s authority to set its own vehicle emission standards. Trump said he is eliminating California’s waiver under the Clean Air Act that allowed the state to set tighter emissions standards than the federal standards.
Trump claimed there will be “very little difference” between the California emissions standards and the standards his administration plans to unveil even though the new federal standards are expected to be looser than those set by President Barack Obama.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra accused Trump of standing in the way of progress and pledged to take the administration to court over the move.
In a statement Thursday, the U.S. Department of Transportation made it clear that pursuant to Congress’ mandate in the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, only the federal government may set fuel economy standards, and state and local governments may not establish their own separate fuel economy standards. This includes state laws that substantially affect fuel economy standards such as tailpipe GHG emissions standards and ZEV mandates, it added.
According to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, “One national standard provides much-needed regulatory certainty for the automotive industry and sets the stage for the Trump Administration’s final SAFE rule that will save lives and promote economic growth by reducing the price of new vehicles to help more Americans purchase newer, cleaner, and safer cars and trucks.”
Wheeler said EPA is withdrawing the Clean Air Act preemption waiver it granted to the State of California in January 2013 as it relates to California’s GHG and ZEV programs. However, he clarified that California’s authority to enforce its Low Emission Vehicle program and other clean air standards to address harmful smog-forming vehicle emissions will remain.
The move reflects Trump latest attempt to roll back Obama’s environmental legacy, as the current president has continually raised doubts about whether human activity is fueling climate change.
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