The Trump administration is set this week to propose a rollback of California's highly successful auto emissions standards, in a move that could result in yet another sweeping environmental anti-regulatory measure.
According to Reuters, the U.S. Transportation Department and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are expected to unveil a proposed regulation that recommends freezing national emissions requirements at 2020 levels unitl 2026, the official said on condition of anonymity because it has not yet been made public.
If the Trump administration moves to revoke California's authority on regulating vehicle greenhouse gases, the administration would likely deploy two legal arguments, say Sivas and Holmstead.
The proposal would also freeze federal requirements on fuel economy at a fleet-average 35 miles per gallon by 2020, rather than allowing that figure to climb to 50 mpg by 2025 as it is now set to do.
Special provisions in the federal Clean Air Act allow states to either follow the federal requirements or adopt California's vehicle emission regulations.
The federal government could also argue that the 1975 statute that governs automobile efficiency - the Corporate Average Fuel Economy law - pre-empts California from setting its own fuel economy standards.
The proposal is sure to spark a massive fight with California and a dozen other states that have adopted the rules.
And for automakers, it could create years of uncertainty over which standards their cars must meet. Tom Carper of DE said the Trump administration was considering freezing the fuel standard at 2020 levels for the next five years.
On social media, some noted that Trump's attack on California's ability to regulate emissions on its own roads flies in the face of conservative arguments in favor of "states' rights"-often invoked in debates over states' ability to regulate abortion access and LGBTQ rights, as well as racial integration and slavery in the past".
A White House spokeswoman did not immediately respond for comment.
An annual report issued this month by the California Air Resources Board found that California already has met its 2020 goal for cutting greenhouse gas emissions back to 1990 levels. The revision would also impact California's mandate on electric vehicle sales in the state.
"We have the law on our side, as well as the people of the country and the people of the world", Dan Sperling, a member of California's Air Resources Board, told Bloomberg.
"One of the reasons they've been somewhat quiet is because they're torn, " said Karl Brauer, executive publisher of Autotrader and KBB.com, speaking of the auto companies.
The administration draft says the proposal would save up to 1,000 highway deaths annually by reducing the cost of new vehicles and prodding people to buy new safer cars sooner, the source said. After the Obama administration bailed out much of the US auto industry immediately after the 2008 recession, it pressured automakers to agree to a 2011 plan to increase fuel efficiency by 2025, to an average of 54.5 miles per gallon. "National fuel economy standards are set by the federal government so that's what we are going to do".