FILE PHOTO: Morning commuters travel in rush hour traffic towards Los Angeles, California, U.S., March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration on Thursday is expected to revoke California’s authority to set its own greenhouse gas and vehicle fuel efficiency standards, a move with high stakes for the auto industry, consumers and the environment.
The Environmental Protection Agency has stressed the need to establish one set of national fuel-economy standards. Currently, California’s most stringent regulations are also followed by a dozen other states.
Revocation of California’s ability to set its own standards is part of a multipronged battle by the Trump administration to counter the state’s efforts to reshape the mix of vehicles driven by Americans. The administration also plans to announce in coming weeks a separate rule that would roll back Obama-era fuel-efficiency standards agreed with the state.
Trump on Wednesday characterized the step as a win for consumers, saying vehicles would be less expensive and safer under federal requirements.
Officials in California rejected those claims and vowed to fight any attempt by the federal government to restrict its ability to set its own standards on vehicle emissions and electric cars.
Calling it a “political vendetta,” California Governor Gavin Newsom, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Mary Nichols, the state’s top clean air regulator, said Trump’s action would compromise public health and leave the U.S. auto industry behind in the global race to build electric vehicles.
California received a waiver from the EPA in 2013 allowing it to set its own emissions rules.
Automakers are caught in the middle. While worried that California’s electric vehicle mandates will be costly, global automakers have little choice but to develop battery electric cars and trucks because Europe and China are pushing ahead with rules requiring them.
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade group representing General Motors Co, Toyota Motor Corp, Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE), Ford Motor Co and others, declined on Wednesday to take a position on Trump’s revocation of California’s waiver.
Reporting by David Shepardson; Writing by Alexandria Sage; Editing by Lisa Shumaker