The Trump administration on Thursday proposed weakening Obama-era mileage standards created to make cars more fuel efficient and less polluting, a major rollback already being challenged in the courts by California and other states.
The rulemaking proposal also calls for one national standard and proposes to withdraw California's Clean Air Act Preemption Waiver, which already drew angry reactions from California.
The administration billed the rollback it announced on Thursday, which would also revoke California's authority to set its own strict vehicle emissions rules, as a way to lower auto prices for consumers.
"For an administration that is happy to let states set their own rules when it comes to weakening environmental protection, it's the height of hypocrisy to deny California and a dozen other states their right to protect their people from global warming", Becker said in a statement.
"The EPA has handed decision making over to the fossil fuel lobbyists. the flat-Earthers, the climate change deniers", said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.
'California will fight this stupidity in every conceivable way possible'. The EPA estimates that the new rules would result in a 0.003 degree Celsius difference in the global climate by the year 2100, compared with the Obama-era mandate.
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Pollution from cars, trucks and other on-road vehicles is the California's single-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, according to state data.
About a third of these projected savings, or $198 billion, are tied to the agencies' assertion that, by slowing pace at which new vehicles get more expensive, they'll allow people to replace older and less-safe cars more rapidly.
Transport has become the largest sector source of greenhouse gas emissions in the USA, as cheap fuel has encouraged Americans to buy larger vehicles such as SUVs.
All of this could be somewhat mitigated if California can set stronger standards; at the moment, the state and federal standard are the same.
"This has to be absolutely one of the most harmful and dumbest actions that the EPA has taken", said Healey of MA, one of the attorneys general from 19 states and the District of Columbia objecting to the change.
The proportion of passengers killed in cars that are older than 18 years is nearly double that of cars that are newer than three years, according to a recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study. The 10 other states and the District of Columbia that have adopted the tougher California guidelines would also be impacted by the White House move. "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", a statement from Wheeler reads.
"Automakers support continued improvements in fuel economy and flexibilities that incentivize advanced technologies while balancing priorities like affordability, safety, jobs, and the environment", Gloria Bergquist, spokeswoman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said in a statement.