The Trump Administration Will Prevent California From Setting Its Own Fuel Efficiency Standards

He thinks the state is being mean to polluters.

Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool/Getty

The Trump administration is expected to announce on Wednesday that it will strip California from having any legal authority to require stricter tailpipe pollution standards than the federal government, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

The Times reports:

The formal revocation of California’s authority to set its own rules on tailpipe pollution—the United States’ largest source of greenhouse emissions—will be announced Wednesday afternoon at a private event at the Washington headquarters of the Environmental Protection Agency, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The move will come after the Justice Department opened an antitrust investigation into the four automakers that had bypassed the White House to reach a deal on emissions rules directly with California. After the Wall Street Journal uncovered details of the probe in September, House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Representative David Cicilline (D-R.I.) said in a joint statement that it was “only the latest in a profoundly troubling pattern of abuse of power that has flourished under the Trump presidency.”

In 2018, Mother Jones‘ Jackie Flynn Mogensen explained the context for Trump’s attack on auto-emission standards:

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.

Even after Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency proposed new rules for greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars, California brokered a deal in July with four automobile companies (Ford, Honda, Volkswagen, and BMW of North America) to produce cars that would average nearly 50 miles per gallon by 2026, only one year later than the Obama-era target.

The Trump administration’s latest attack on California represents an escalation of the conflict over vehicle-pollution rules and sets up a legal showdown between the administration and the largely Democratic state. California attorney general Xavier Becerra wrote in an email to the Times, “California will continue its advance toward a cleaner future. We’re prepared to defend the standards that make that promise a reality.”

More Mother Jones reporting on Climate Desk

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Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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