Administrator Scott Pruitt announced the completion of the Midterm Evaluation (MTE) process for the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards for cars and light trucks for model years 2022-2025, and his final determination that the current standards are not appropriate and should be revised.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said last week that his state is prepared to sue Pruitt's EPA over attempts to weaken the Obama-era vehicle standards. "Obama's EPA. made assumptions about the standards that didn't comport with reality and set the standards too high". Doug Jones from Alabama telling ABC News' "This Week" that he thinks Pruitt "is in real trouble" because "it just looks so bad".
The changes could set up a legal battle with California, which has the power to set its own pollution and gas mileage standards. The Auto Alliance, a trade group that represents USA automakers, praised the decision to revisit the standards in a statement but urged the Trump administration to strike a deal with California.
More than a dozen states adhere to California's eco-friendly regulation.
Meanwhile, environmentalists warned the rollbacks will make USA cars more expensive to fill up, a growing concern in California. Under the Clean Air Act, California is allowed to set vehicle emissions standards higher than the rest of the country, and with almost 35.4 million registered vehicles, the state commands powerful influence over the American auto market.
Cooperative federalism doesn't mean that one state can dictate standards for the rest of the country.
If Pruitt leaves the waiver in place, it would limit the greenhouse gas damage of Trump's reversal; California has such a large market, it effectively sets standards for the rest of the country since many auto manufacturers don't want to produce vehicles that they can't sell in California.
He argued that the EPA's own analysis shows the national clean auto standards benefit all consumers by reducing fuel costs and greenhouse gas pollution. EPA administrator Scott Pruitt signed a plan to roll back fuel economy standards that the EPA first finalized in 2012.
But some automakers have recently said that they aren't in favor of rolling back the standards that are in place.
"It is a move to demolish the nation's clean auto program". The tone between state air regulators and the EPA chief has grown increasingly tense, with Pruitt signaling he may try to revoke the state's Clean Air Act waiver, an unprecedented and legally risky move that has the potential of leaving the auto industry with years of uncertainty.
"As the administration tries to take the nation backwards, more than a dozen states - led by California - are pushing ahead, and we hope more will join", Michael Bloomberg, former NY mayor and cochair of a USA cities and states coalition pushing ahead on climate action called America's Pledge, said in a statement.
House Republicans Fred Upton of Michigan, John Shimkus of IL and Bob Latta of OH welcomed Pruitt's "reasonable and achievable" move to rollback the standards. This evaluation would determine whether the standards remain appropriate or should be made more, or less stringent.
The EPA plans to roll back the Obama Administration's standards on vehicle emissions, setting the auto industry - and the Trump government - on a collision course with California.
Calling the EPA's planned rollback a way of "cooking the books on its review of national auto mission standards", Schneiderman vowed to take action against the EPA if necessary.
The Trump administration's EPA hasn't said what changes it will make, or whether it will scrap entirely former president Barack Obama's efforts to boost fuel economy to 54.5 mpg by 2025, though the target would be lower if more large vehicles or trucks are sold, under the complex formulas used to calculate the requirements.
"We're ready to file suit if needed to protect these critical standards and to fight the Administration's war on our environment", Becerra said.