A new Trump administration proposal would cut back automobile fuel efficiency and emissions standards leftover from the prior administration, and would go even further to stop California from setting higher standards, according to NPR.
The proposal was made public on Thursday, by the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, arguing that higher standards actually detract from highway safety, by raising the prices of newer vehicles with up-to-date safety features.
The proposal would freeze standards at 2020 levels for six years, to address these safety concerns and to ease regulations that the EPA says harm manufacturers.
Furthermore, the rule would eliminate California’s ability, provided by a federal waiver, to set its own higher standards that other states can follow. No other state has this option to set their own standards, although 12 others have chosen to follow California’s more stringent regulations, and this block accounts for one third of all auto sales in the US, according to NPR. The new rule proposal calls this a “fundamental and unnecessary complication,” and would set lower standards that would apply to all states, including California.
“California will fight this stupidity in every conceivable way possible,” according to Governor Jerry Brown.
The California Air Resources Board says the waiver is necessary “due to California’s unique geography, weather and expanding number of people and vehicles.”
The state has already reached its emission target set for 2020, to cut emissions to below 1990 levels, and is now aiming for a further 40 percent cut by 2030.
California is one of 17 states, along with the District of Columbia, to have preemptively sued the EPA in May over the rollback. Now, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is leading a new lawsuit against the proposal itself, which he called “a brazen attack, no matter how it is cloaked, on our nation’s Clean Car Standards.”
The proposal also earned wider criticism for its claim that it would improve highway safety, and remove unacceptable burdens from auto manufacturers.
According to Reuters, auto manufacturers themselves have said that they do not support freezing emissions standards, instead asking for new rules that that consider changes in fuel prices and consumer demand.
And Consumer Reports Vice President for Advocacy, David Friedman, said:
“Given this administration’s dramatic lack of progress on auto safety, and the auto industry’s proven ability to improve safety and fuel efficiency at the same time, it is troubling at best that this rollback was made under the guise of safety.”