Continuing its assault on federal rules created to protect the environment and combat global warming, the Trump administration has proposed weakening future fuel efficiency standards for American cars and trucks.
The affordability argument ignores thousands of dollars of saving in fuel costs for each driver over the life of a auto, opponents of the rollbacks said. It claims that automakers will save billions of dollars in regulatory-related costs, such as developing more efficient vehicles.
"I feel like we have a very good and strong case", state Attorney General Xavier Becerra said. "California will fight this stupidity in every conceivable way possible", Governor Jerry Brown said in a statement. "We are prepared to go to court to put the brakes on this reckless and illegal plan".
Activists warn that this will be bad for both consumers and the planet.
But advocates criticised the weakening of environmental rules.
Those states argue the Clean Air Act empowers them to keep the Obama-era fuel economy standards in place in their markets.
The argument may prove a tough sell in court, where attorneys for states and environmental groups will come armed with a wealth of data undermining it.
"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.
It's going to result in dirtier air and cost communities all across the country more money in dealing with the cost of climate change. The Obama-era law sought to push average fuel efficiency to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. Yet for President Donald Trump, who's prioritized eliminating regulations, the auto rules represent a grand prize. Their proposed rule calls for replacing an aggressive 2012 rule for increasing fuel efficiency in cars and light trucks from 2022 through 2025.
The Obama-era rules also drove vehicle prices higher, since prior estimates fell short of what incremental improvements to fuel efficiency actually cost.
Jeff Alson, a former policy adviser for the EPA office of transportation and air quality in Ann Arbor, has worked on vehicle emissions for 40 years at the agency.
"Automakers support continued improvements in fuel economy and flexibilities that incentivize advanced technologies while balancing priorities like affordability, safety, jobs, and the environment".
The proposed rule acknowledges that it would result in a 2 percent to 3 percent increase in fuel consumption, the equivalent of about half a million barrels of oil per day, and a small increase in global average temperature and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It also claims that lower new vehicle prices would mean more folks buying them and moving out of older, less safe cars.
Heidi King, deputy administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said the freeze would reduce highway deaths by 1,000 per year "by reducing these barriers that prevent consumers from getting into the newer, safer, cleaner, more fuel-efficient cars". The plunge in natural gas prices and other market forces have steadily lowered the climate impact of utilities, but transportation is proving more stubborn.
The administration also filed notice Thursday that it wants to revoke the authority of California and other states to set their own, stricter mileage standards - independent of federal ones.
It also wants to stop states such as California being able to set their own standards.
A drawn-out legal battle over the standards could hurt the auto industry as it tries to plan for coming model years. The EPA says that current fuel economy standards could add more than $2,000 to the cost of a new vehicle, leading drivers to hold onto their older, less safe vehicles rather than upgrade to newer machines. The rulemaking will set the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) and light-duty vehicle greenhouse emissions standards for light trucks and will set the greenhouse gas and mileage standards for 2021-2026.