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Trump And The California EPA Waiver

Well, folks, it looks like the state of California is dotting their “I’s” and crossing their “T’s” as they get ready to go toe to toe with President Trump over EPA waivers.   With the anticipated announcement by the administration of what could be major changes to the fuel efficiency standards, we are sure to see a battle between California and the Trump administration.

It would seem that there isn’t a small gap, but one of mammoth size between California and top environmental regulators.

 

In a Bloomberg report:

U.S. and California officials agreed Monday on one thing about auto emissions standards: they’re still miles from an agreement, with a crucial deadline just two months away.

In separate comments, Sacramento and Washington’s top environmental regulators said they’ve yet to overcome a long-running impasse over the Trump administration’s proposal to cap auto emissions and fuel economy standards after 2020 and strip California of its authority to regulate tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions.

“We certainly hope to have a 50-state solution but at the end of the day we have to move forward with regulation,” Environmental Protection Agency Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler told Bloomberg Television in an interview Monday, saying the agency and the state remain “pretty far apart” on the issue. “California is an important player — an important part of this — but this is not a two-sided negotiation for a national standard.”

After briefly meeting with Wheeler in San Francisco on Monday, California Air Resources Board Chairman Mary Nichols said the two sides remain at odds over the proposal and that a fundamental philosophical disagreement exists over the federal proposal to unwind California’s power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from autos.

“That disagreement may turn into a legal disagreement at some point,” Nichols said during remarks at the BloombergNEF Summit San Francisco. “I think it’s also correct to say that we have some reason to hope that we could possibly reach a resolution, not so much because I think we’re going to change their minds through the force of our arguments, as that the auto industry itself has made it very clear that they don’t want this fight. ”

Although, on one hand, it would seem clear that the automobile manufacturers are not wanting their differences to escalate into a fight, on the other it looks as though California will not give up their auto emissions controls without one.

Over at CNBC:

The Environmental Protection Agency will cancel plans to raise fuel efficiency requirements, known as CAFE standards, to about 50 miles per gallon by 2025, Bloomberg News reported, citing three people familiar with the plan. The administration will instead leave the average fuel efficiency requirement at 35 mpg for the fleet of cars and trucks manufactured by automakers.

The EPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will also move to strip California of the authority to set tougher standards, which is enshrined in a waiver granted under the Clean Air Act, according to Bloomberg. That would also undercut California’s plans to require carmakers to sell a higher number of electric vehicles.

White House officials confirmed to CNBC that the administration intends to release its CAFE standards proposal later this week.

That plan is widely anticipated to become mired in litigation, an outcome two White House officials acknowledged to CNBC.

California, along with 16 other states and Washington, D.C., sued the EPAin May over the Trump administration’s intention to weaken fuel efficiency standards for automobiles. The state filed suit one month after the EPA said it would overturn the Obama administration’s requirements to boost fuel efficiency and cut greenhouse gas emissions from passenger cars.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra sent a strong warning in Trump’s direction when he stated:

“To the Trump Administration: make no mistake about it — we are ready to use every legal tool at our disposal to protect the current vehicle emission standards. The stakes are high for our families’ health, the environment, and our economic prosperity,”

Where does this leave automakers?  In the middle of the fray, with the added worry that it might end up coming down to them having to engineer future autos to meet two different sets of standards.

 

 

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