US to propose revoking Calif. authority to set auto emissions rules

Trump seeking to limit California's power to regulate emissions

The acting head of the Environmental Protection Agency said Tuesday that the United States needs a single standard for fuel efficiency for cars and trucks, signaling a possible showdown with California and other states that could throw the auto market into turmoil. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said that he is "ready to use every legal tool at our disposal to protect the current vehicle emission standards".

The news of the Trump administration's plan was leaked in late May, but Bloomberg spoke to people who had seen the plans recently.

The state's ability to set its own rules has also let to regulations that many in the trucking industry have found onerous.

The Trump administration is looking to change a rule that allows California to regulate vehicle emissions for residents and freeze fuel efficiency standards at a fleet average of 35 miles per gallon rather than allowing the standard to rise to 50 miles per gallon by 2025.

A program for steadily increasing fuel efficiency rules was a key part of the Obama administration's effort to combat climate-changing emissions from fossil fuel.

California is certain to file a lawsuit to defend its ability to set its own fuel and emissions standards.

Jeff Holmstead, a Washington-based lawyer and assistant EPA administrator during the George W. Bush administration, said he has heard the White House will seek public comment on a range of proposals, floating the idea of revoking California's authority but not formally proposing it.

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California was granted a waiver to the Clean Air Act from the moment the act was first drafted in 1970.

California and like-minded states are girding for a legal battle with the Trump administration on whether those states have gone too far in controlling greenhouse gases from automobiles, a prospective case that legal scholars say - barring a last-minute settlement - is sure to reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

California officials have long said they will sue if the Environmental Protection Agency makes good on the threat.

The EPA and Transportation Department did not immediately provide comments on Monday.

In addition, the Trump administration plans to propose a rule that would revoke a waiver California was granted by the EPA under the Clean Air Act, which allowed California to set its own emissions rules and requirements for zero emission vehicles.

Under President Barack Obama, three disparate sets of fuel efficiency rules were tightened to match those already in place in California. The state's large population and geography contribute to serious smog problems, he said, but "when it comes to Carbon dioxide emissions, you know, California's really in the same place as anyone else". State regulators also worked closely with the Obama Administration to craft federal fuel economy standards that span well into the future. Although California argues its rules are not fuel economy standards in word or practice, "they are very much related to fuel economy", Holmstead said. So California's standards are now in sync with the federal government's. Jerry Brown said at a news conference announcing the lawsuit.

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