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UPDATE: Trump, States, Utilities Head for Showdown on Emissions, Electric Vehicles

by Countable | Updated on 7.25.18

UPDATE July 25, 2018: The EPA is moving to rescind California’s authority to set its own emission standards for automobiles, including its mandate for electric vehicles.

The proposed rule, expected later this week, would freeze federal vehicle efficiency standards at 35 miles per gallon (mpg), rather than the 50 mpg target for 2025 the Obama administration finalized, as well as revoke California’s waiver to issue its own auto pollution rules.

The rule will likely spur a lengthy court battle. Shortly after the EPA announced in March that it would reconsider the Obama-era auto rules, California and 17 other states sued the agency, followed by a group of electric utilities and automaker Tesla. Major utility trade groups also wrote to the EPA in May asking it to finalize rules that "incorporate policies from California."


UPDATE June 20, 2018: Colorado is joining the growing list of states that are conforming to California's vehicle emissions standard.

Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia already apply California's rules.

The White House will reportedly meet with California officials and automakers this week in an attempt to hash out an agreement.


What's the story?

  • As part of an ongoing effort to roll back automotive fuel efficiency standards, the Trump administration could be heading for a major conflict with California.
  • Reuters is reporting that the Environmental Protection Agency has submitted a proposal to rescind California’s unique authority to set its own standards, rather than follow federal requirements.

Why does it matter?

  • Because California typically implements stricter standards than the federal government, the entire auto industry tends to adhere to California’s requirements because it’s economically inefficient to make different cars for different states.
  • In effect, California has the power to drag the rest of the country into tighter fuel efficiency, even if President Donald Trump succeeds in his efforts to relax Obama-era standards. Thus, if the Trump administration revokes California’s ability to set its own standards, it will have far-reaching consequences.

How is the Golden State responding?

  • California officials have already said that they would sue if the federal government tries to take away their ability to implement their own fuel efficiency standards, and they have retained the services of former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Such a case would likely end up at the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • California, along with 16 other states and the District of Columbia, filed a lawsuit last month to block the EPA’s efforts.

What do you think?

Should California’s ability to set its own standards be revoked? Hit Take Action, then share your thoughts below.

—Sara E. Murphy

 (Photo Credit: Minesweeper)

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