(CN) - The Trump administration on Thursday formally proposed rolling back Obama-era vehicle emissions and fuel economy standards that were intended to nearly double passenger behicle's fuel economy and halve their carbon emissions by 2025.
The White House proposal also aims to create a “50-state” emission standard that could threaten California’s 40-year-old ability to create their own mileage and emission regulations. In a statement, the Environmental Protection Agency, acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler says the Trump plan reflects “a balance of safety, economics, technology, fuel conservation, and pollution reduction.”
“We are delivering on President Trump’s promise to the American public that his administration would address and fix the current fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards,” Wheeler continued. “Our proposal aims to strike the right regulatory balance based on the most recent information and create a 50-state solution that will enable more Americans to afford newer, safer vehicles that pollute less. More realistic standards can save lives while continuing to improve the environment. We value the public’s input as we engage in this process in an open, transparent manner.”
California Governor Jerry Brown responded the Trump administration announcement Thursday by saying, "for Trump to now destroy a law first enacted at the request of Ronald Reagan five decades ago is a betrayal and an assault on the health of Americans everywhere.
"Under his reckless scheme, motorists will pay more at the pump, get worse gas mileage and breathe dirtier air. California will fight this stupidity in every conceivable way possible,” the governor's statement said.
Brown's disdain for the action was echoed by Californina Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who said, “The Trump Administration has launched a brazen and unlawful attack, no matter how cloaked, on our nation’s Clean Car Standards.
"The California Department of Justice will use every legal tool at its disposal to defend today’s national standards and reaffirm the science behind them,” Becerra continued. “Our nation’s Clean Car Standards save consumers thousands of dollars, protect our families’ health, and ensure that we continue tackling climate change, the most important global environmental issue of our time. We are ready to do what is necessary to hold this Administration accountable.”
The administration's action on the standards has long been expected, and while Thursday's release doesn’t directly reference California’s federal-exemption for creating harsher standards, Wheeler’s mention of a “50-state solution” could lead to an attempt to limit the state’s power.
The twin moves effectively trash car mileage standards put in place by the Obama administration and would dramatically curtail California's long-standing ability to create its own mileage and emissions standards.
The original, enhanced standards were born out of a compromise between the state of California, automakers and the EPA under President Barack Obama, which lead to what was considered one of his signal environmental accomplishments.
But the rollback of the mileage standards is more than just another attack on Obama's legacy by the Trump administration, it also signals a willingness to stab at the heart of efforts to curb emissions and reduce the hazards to health and environment they pose.
When it comes to emissions, no state has been more active and more ahead of the curve than California, which began regulating emissions and mileage nearly 70 years ago -- more than 20 years before the federal government enacted the Clean Air Act.