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Trump's Looming Fight With California Has Arrived

Administration revealed its proposal to roll back Obama rules on fuel standards
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 2, 2018 11:39 AM CDT

(Newser) News broke in late March that the EPA was preparing to announce plans to weaken landmark fuel-efficiency goals put in place by the Obama administration, and that day has come to pass. The Trump administration on Thursday formally released its proposal, a joint effort with the EPA and Transportation Department, which would curtail an Obama-era rule that would have required vehicles to hit an average fuel economy mark of about 54mpg by 2025, a mark the administration has framed as too high and therefore problematic for manufacturers, reports the New York Times. Instead, the standard would be frozen after 2020 at roughly 37mpg, where it would remain though 2025, reports CNBC. More:

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  • The proposal also sets up a huge fight with California, which has a waiver under the 1970 Clean Air Act to set its own standards; another dozen states, including New York, typically follow California's lead, and the administration's proposal would revoke that waiver, reports the AP.
  • NPR has Gov. Jerry Brown's response: "California will fight this stupidity in every conceivable way possible."
  • The administration is arguing that if Obama's rules are fully enacted, 13,000 additional lives will be lost in car crashes, per the Times (which notes that the Obama administration's calculation was that 100 lives would be saved). "As it turns out, there is no such thing as a free lunch," the proposal reads, with this explanation: "In light of the reality that vehicle manufacturers may choose the relatively cost-effective technology option of vehicle lightweighting for a wide array of vehicles and not just the largest and heaviest, it is now recognized that as the stringency of standards increases, so does the likelihood that higher stringency will increase on-road fatalities."
  • Reuters reports another line of argument: That the rollback would tamp down on the price of vehicles, allowing more Americans to replace older models with newer and safer ones and eliminating as many as 1,000 deaths a year.
  • The proposal's publication now opens the door for a comment period, with a final version coming later this year. But comments aren't the only thing coming. Reuters predicts a "protracted legal battle" between the feds and the states, and reports 19 states, California among them, have said they plan to sue.
(Read more fuel economy stories.)

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