President Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared Monday that Obama-era greenhouse gas standards for cars built between 2022 and 2025 are “too high” and must be weakened, and therefore siding with automakers.
“The Obama administration’s determination was wrong,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said in a Monday statement, referring to the Obama administration’s finding weeks before Trump’s inauguration that the rules through 2025 are appropriate and still attainable.
“Obama’s EPA cut the Midterm Evaluation process short with politically charged expediency, made assumptions about the standards that didn’t comport with reality, and set the standards too high,” he said.
The Hill added:
The standards, set as part of a landmark agreement with automakers in 2011, were one of the main pillars of former President Obama’s climate change agenda. The EPA estimated that cars could get an average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, and that model years between 2012 and 2025 would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 6 billion tons and save consumers $1.7 trillion.
The Monday declaration sets up a showdown with California, which has the authority to retain strict standards and has declared its intention to go it alone without the EPA. Twelve other states follow California’s rules, accounting for about a third of the nation’s car market.
In Monday’s notice, Pruitt said he is reviewing whether to continue allowing California to set its own vehicle emissions rules or to revoke the state’s waiver.
“Cooperative federalism doesn’t mean that one state can dictate standards for the rest of the country,” Pruitt said. “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.”
Automakers, who asked Trump to redo the review shortly after he took office, praised Pruitt’s finding.
“This was the right decision, and we support the administration for pursuing a data-driven effort and a single national program as it works to finalize future standards,” said Gloria Borquist, spokeswoman for the Auto Alliance. “We appreciate that the administration is working to find a way to both increase fuel economy standards and keep new vehicles affordable to more Americans.”
“We appreciate the EPA’s data-driven process in arriving at its Final Determination that adjustments to the national GHG program are needed,” said John Bozzella, the president of Global Automakers. “This is the first step in a longer rulemaking process, and the best way to achieve our collective goals is under a single national program that provides an aggressive but achievable pathway, a variety of compliance tools, and factors in the role of customers.”
However, environmental groups immediately blasted Pruitt’s decision, arguing motorists will “pay more at the pump while our air gets dirtier.”
“These roll-backs from Scott Pruitt mean Americans will pay more at the pump while our air gets dirtier, just so Pruitt can help the corporate lobbyists and polluters who give him favors and marching orders,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune.
“Pruitt’s decision to side with Ford and the Auto Alliance rather than the overwhelming majority of Americans who want these clean car standards should come as no surprise as this is an administrator who focuses solely on what’s best for corporate polluters, not the public. But make no mistake, we will continue fighting back to protect these standards and the health of our communities,” he said.
“The Trump administration’s decision will take America backward by jeopardizing successful safeguards that are working to clean our air, save drivers money at the pump, and drive technological innovation that creates jobs,” said Luke Tonachel, director for clean vehicles at the Natural Resources Defense Council.