EPA Prepares to Gut Obama's Signature Move on Autos

Chief Scott Pruitt plans to weaken fuel efficiency standards set to go in place
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 30, 2018 6:32 AM CDT
EPA Prepares to Gut Obama's Signature Move on Autos
Traffic backs up on US highway 101 in Mill Valley, Calif.   (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

The EPA is preparing to make a big move as early as next week to weaken landmark fuel-efficiency goals put in place by the Obama administration, reports the New York Times. The Obama-era rules would have required cars and SUVs to hit 55mpg by 2025, but Trump and EPA chief Scott Pruitt, both of whom have voiced public doubts about climate change, think the mark is too high and therefore problematic for manufacturers. The revised standards are still being worked out, but the Los Angeles Times notes that the move sets up a huge fight with California, which has a waiver under the 1970 Clean Air Act to set its own standards. Another dozen states, including New York, typically follow California's lead, which the NYT notes raises the possibility of the US essentially having two auto markets, with some states—say, those on the coasts—abiding by tougher emission rules.

Trump has long signaled he wants to move in this direction in regard to the rules, known as the Corporate Average Fuel Economy. "I'm sure you've all heard the big news that we're going to work on the CAFE standards so you can make cars in America again," he said in Detroit last year. The rules were among two signature moves on the climate made by Obama, the other being his Clean Power Plan, and the LAT notes that some experts think the auto plan is the more significant of the two in regard to global warming. It's possible Pruitt aims to revoke California's waiver under the 1970 act, though state officials say they're ready for a fight. "We are not going to go backward," says state Attorney General Xavier Becerra. Though the original rule set a standard of 55mpg, it's likely that would translate to 44mpg on car stickers because of newer testing methods, per the LAT. (More fuel efficiency stories.)

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