EPA to Block California From Setting Emissions Standards

State has had tougher rules to fight air pollution for decades
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 17, 2019 3:48 PM CDT
Administration Plans to Erase California Emissions Standards
Vehicles move across the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.   (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

Since smog in Los Angeles became unbearable in the 1960s, California has set its own vehicle emissions standards—limits that were stricter than the federal government permitted elsewhere. The Trump administration now is moving to end that practice. The EPA will revoke that authority Wednesday, the Washington Post reports, citing two senior administration officials. California has repeatedly been granted Clean Air Act waivers to set its own rules; the administration plans to find that the EPA was wrong to grant those waivers. California saw this coming, and has negotiated voluntary standards with four major automakers. The Justice Department has launched an antitrust investigation of that deal, per CNN.

The administration's effort to turn back Obama-era standards could end up in court—and might also reverse the decline in California's air pollution, per CNN. Some in the industry fear the creation of an auto market for California and another one for everyone else. Other states have been free to follow California's standards since 1977, and about a dozen have. Environmental groups said they'll fight the Trump administration's action and defend the waivers. "This is very well established legal authority that’s firmly anchored in the Clean Air Act," a senior lawyer for the Environmental Defense Fund said. (More vehicle emissions stories.)

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