The Trump administration is planning a proposal that would seize control away from California regulators and prevent them from enforcing the state’s own emissions standards.
The planned proposal, revealed in a report by Bloomberg, aims to revise standards that are among the strictest in the country. The revision would also impact California’s mandate on electric vehicle sales in the state.
California is the only state allowed to regulate tailpipe emissions under the federal Clean Air Act thanks to a waiver it received in 2009 from the Environmental Protection Agency. Other states can follow the federal regulation or the stricter standards set by the California Air Resources Board, but they can’t set their own.
The EPA and the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are reportedly backing the proposal, each agency providing its own remedy to strip California of its authority. The EPA is expected to propose revoking the Clean Air Act waiver given to California. NHTSA is planning to argue that a 1975 law that enacted the first federal fuel efficiency standards prohibits the state from regulating tailpipe emissions.
California is hardly going to roll over on this proposal. The state is in the midst of hitting aggressive goals as part of a plan approved last year to cut emissions in the state by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2030.
The proposal — presuming it sees the light of day — will be the first shot in what is expected to be a long battle in the U.S. courts. While an attack on California’s clean car mandate will cause some uncertainty, it’s unlikely to derail the influx of electric vehicles poised for release over the next several years by an increasingly long list of automakers that includes Ford, VW and Porsche.