Trump confirms U.S. will revoke California waiver to require cleaner cars

by Reuters
Wednesday, 18 September 2019 15:57 GMT

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By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON, Sept 18 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump confirmed on Wednesday the Environmental Protection Agency will revoke California's waiver that allows it to require automakers to build cleaner vehicles than federal requirements demand - a move that will set off a massive legal battle.

Reuters and other media outlets reported on Tuesday the administration was set to formally announce the decision as early as Wednesday. The Trump administration will announce in the coming weeks a separate rule to roll back Obama-era fuel efficiency standards.

Trump urged automakers to back the action, but so far none have publicly supported revocation of California's authority. "Automakers should seize this opportunity because without this alternative to California, you will be out of business," Trump wrote on Twitter.

This is the latest in a series of Trump administration fights with California after high-speed rail funding, border wall funding and power plant regulations.

The move, which will also include the Transportation Department declaring California is pre-empted from regulating vehicle fuel economy, will spark legal challenges over issues including states' rights and climate change that administration officials say could ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Trump met with senior officials last Thursday and agreed to green-light the plan to bar California from setting tailpipe emission standards that are followed by a dozen other states or requiring a rising number of zero-emission vehicles, Reuters reported last week.

Under Trump, federal regulators have backed freezing emissions requirements for new cars and trucks at 2020 levels through 2026. Administration officials say the final regulation will include a modest boost in annual efficiency requirements but far less than what the Obama administration set in 2012.

The Obama-era rules called for a fleetwide fuel efficiency average of 46.7 miles (75 km) per gallon by 2025, with average annual increases of about 5%, compared with 37 mpg by 2026 under the Trump administration's preferred option to freeze requirements.

California wants 15.4% of vehicle sales by 2025 to be EVs or other zero-emission vehicles and 10 other states have adopted those requirements.

California has vowed to challenge the Trump administration effort, arguing that the United States has an obligation to protect the environment for future generations. "We'll see you in court if you stand in our way," California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said. (Reporting by David Shepardson in Washington Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Matthew Lewis)

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