Setting up its most aggressive clash yet with California over environmental standards, the Trump administration signaled Monday it may revoke the state's ability under the Clean Air Act to impose stricter standards for vehicle emissions.
The announcement came as the administration confirmed it is tearing up landmark fuel economy rules pushing auto-makers to manufacture cleaner burning cars and SUVs.
"Cooperative federalism doesn't mean that one state can dictate standards for the rest of the country," Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt said in a statement. "EPA will set a national standard for greenhouse gas emissions that allows auto manufacturers to make cars that people both want and can afford – while still expanding environmental and safety benefits of newer cars. It's in everyone's best interest to have a national standard, and we look forward to working with all states, including California, as we work to finalize that standard."
Pruitt said that the administration will abandon the federal goal of having the vehicles average 55 miles per gallon by 2025. That target will be replaced with a weaker fuel economy standard that the administration will settle on at a later date.
The action sets up the administration for a confrontation with California and a dozen other states that have authority under federal law to continue pursuing the Obama era target. Those states met the administration's action with defiance.
The current national fuel economy targets, which were championed by California, represent the single biggest action the federal government has taken to curb greenhouse gases. They are crucial to California and other states to meeting their goals for climate action and reducing smog and other air pollution. The targets are also essential to an effort led by Gov. Jerry Brown and others to carry the country toward meeting the obligations in the Paris Accord on climate change that the Trump administration is refusing to honor.
The administration's action, which came at the behest of automakers, could have little use to them if California succeeds in holding out. The state has unique authority under the Clean Air Act to impose standards tougher than the EPA, and other states are permitted under federal law to embrace the California rules. A dozen states have. They are poised to join California in fighting the administration.
Automakers were counting on electric cars tipping the scales for their fleet averages enough to get those numbers up to 55 MPG by 2025, but sales aren't going so well (ask Tesla.) Chevy and Nissan are doing well enough with their electric offerings, but other automakers are struggling, even with the electric car tax credit.
But now the Trump regime is going after the Clean Air Act and this will certainly end up in front of the Supreme Court again, the same Supreme Court that ruled that Obama-era power plant emissions curbs were unconstitutional. We'll see where this goes, but I expect California to lose, and I expect the standards to be dropped significantly from 55 MPG to something far less.
Good thing we didn't elect that Hillary bitch though, things might have gotten really bad for the environment, I'm sure.