These States Are Going to War Over Trump Eliminating Car Emissions Rules

“A brazen attack, no matter how it’s cloaked.”

Drivers enter Sacramento on Highway 50 Rich Pedroncelli/AP

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

On Thursday, in one of the Trump administration’s most aggressive attacks on the environment yet, the White House proposed to cut Obama-era fuel economy standards that would have dramatically reduced harmful air pollution in the next decade. In addition to several governors and environmental groups, state attorneys general responded to the news by promising to halt the administration’s efforts. 

“The Administration’s proposal to weaken these rules will cause the American people to breathe dirtier air and pay higher prices at the pump,” 20 attorneys general from states including Massachusetts, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, DC, said in a joint statement. “This decision upends decades of cooperative state and federal action to protect our residents. We are prepared to go to court to put the brakes on this reckless and illegal plan.”

Pending court action, the Trump standards would cost Americans an extra $17 billion at the pump, lead to the air-pollution-equivalent of 30 new coal plants, and add to the 30,000 annual premature deaths attributed to air pollution by 2030, according to analysis from Earthjustice

In the early years of Obama’s presidency, car companies, in partnership with California, agreed to first-of-their-kind regulations that would double today’s fuel mileage standards to an average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025—and hugely reduce gas emissions that contribute to air pollution and climate change. In April, Scott Pruitt, then EPA administrator, announced plans to gut the regulations, saying they “didn’t comport with reality.” Now, rather than force car companies to clean up their act, the Trump administration’s proposal holds 2020 standards through model year 2026 and rescinds California’s ability to set its own car emission standards. 

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra called the new proposal a “brazen attack” on the nation’s Clean Car Standards. “We are ready to do what is necessary to hold this Administration accountable,” he said in a statement. 

While EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement the proposal would “strike the right regulatory balance” to “enable more Americans to afford newer, safer vehicles,” attorneys general on Twitter called the plan “reckless,” an “attack on states’ rights,” and “irresponsible,” echoing the outrage from environmental groups.

The public will have 60 days to submit comments on the regulations, once published in the Federal Register, according to the EPA’s website. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the EPA plan to jointly hold three public hearings on the new regulations in Washington, DC, the Detroit area, and the Los Angeles area. Meanwhile, attorneys general plan to continue the fight in court.

AN IMPORTANT UPDATE

We’re falling behind our online fundraising goals and we can’t sustain coming up short on donations month after month. Perhaps you’ve heard? It is impossibly hard in the news business right now, with layoffs intensifying and fancy new startups and funding going kaput.

The crisis facing journalism and democracy isn’t going away anytime soon. And neither is Mother Jones, our readers, or our unique way of doing in-depth reporting that exists to bring about change.

Which is exactly why, despite the challenges we face, we just took a big gulp and joined forces with The Center for Investigative Reporting, a team of ace journalists who create the amazing podcast and public radio show Reveal.

If you can part with even just a few bucks, please help us pick up the pace of donations. We simply can’t afford to keep falling behind on our fundraising targets month after month.

Editor-in-Chief Clara Jeffery said it well to our team recently, and that team 100 percent includes readers like you who make it all possible: “This is a year to prove that we can pull off this merger, grow our audiences and impact, attract more funding and keep growing. More broadly, it’s a year when the very future of both journalism and democracy is on the line. We have to go for every important story, every reader/listener/viewer, and leave it all on the field. I’m very proud of all the hard work that’s gotten us to this moment, and confident that we can meet it.”

Let’s do this. If you can right now, please support Mother Jones and investigative journalism with an urgently needed donation today.

payment methods

AN IMPORTANT UPDATE

We’re falling behind our online fundraising goals and we can’t sustain coming up short on donations month after month. Perhaps you’ve heard? It is impossibly hard in the news business right now, with layoffs intensifying and fancy new startups and funding going kaput.

The crisis facing journalism and democracy isn’t going away anytime soon. And neither is Mother Jones, our readers, or our unique way of doing in-depth reporting that exists to bring about change.

Which is exactly why, despite the challenges we face, we just took a big gulp and joined forces with The Center for Investigative Reporting, a team of ace journalists who create the amazing podcast and public radio show Reveal.

If you can part with even just a few bucks, please help us pick up the pace of donations. We simply can’t afford to keep falling behind on our fundraising targets month after month.

Editor-in-Chief Clara Jeffery said it well to our team recently, and that team 100 percent includes readers like you who make it all possible: “This is a year to prove that we can pull off this merger, grow our audiences and impact, attract more funding and keep growing. More broadly, it’s a year when the very future of both journalism and democracy is on the line. We have to go for every important story, every reader/listener/viewer, and leave it all on the field. I’m very proud of all the hard work that’s gotten us to this moment, and confident that we can meet it.”

Let’s do this. If you can right now, please support Mother Jones and investigative journalism with an urgently needed donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate