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California Sues to Defend Auto Emission Rules

1:56 PM PDT on March 16, 2017

What the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards could achieve, if they were allowed to do their job. Image from the old Whitehouse.gov (archived)

Donald Trump's promise to roll back “industry-killing regulations” and “job-crushing taxes” on the auto industry, in concert with a suit from the Automobile Manufacturers against new fuel efficiency standards, got a strong rebuke from California Governor Jerry Brown. In a letter to US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, Brown didn't mince words:

“President Trump’s decision today to weaken emission standards in cars is an unconscionable gift to polluters. Once again, you’ve put the interests of big oil ahead of clean air and politics ahead of science,” he wrote.

Despite automaker's charge that the standards are too difficult for them to meet, wrote Brown, research shows the opposite is true. He attached several reports backing up his claim.

Also, he wrote, the US EPA's own analysis showed that the new standards would:

  • Save consumers more than $1,650 per vehicle.
  • Reduce oil consumption by nearly 40 billion gallons of refined gasoline and diesel fuel.
  • Decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 540 million metric tons.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra also filed a motion in federal court to block a suit filed Monday by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers that claimed the new standards for 2025, originally adopted in 2012, were too hard for them to meet.

“Your action to weaken vehicle pollution standards – standards your own members agreed to – breaks your promise to the American people,” wrote Brown in a separate letter.

Advances in fuel efficiency technology have worked for everyone. They have saved Americans money at the pump, cut oil consumption, reduced air pollution and helped fight climate change. Putting this progress at risk is reckless. Your actions could . . . increase our dependence on foreign oil.

Brown made it clear that California won't sit back and watch the standards be degraded from the sidelines. “Please be advised that California will take the necessary steps to preserve the current standards and protect the health of our people and the stability of our climate,” he wrote.

The EPA standards under threat from Trump and the automakers' suit are the same ones in force in California. They were formulated with significant input from the EPA, California's Air Resources Board, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the automakers themselves.

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