California and other states had previously promised to enforce stricter Obama-era emissions standards, after Trump proposed rolling back the federal rules [File: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg]
The United States administration led by President Donald Trump is moving forward with a plan to revoke California’s authority to set its own vehicle greenhouse gas standards and declare that states are pre-empted from setting their own vehicle rules, three people briefed on the matter told the Reuters news agency.
Trump met senior officials on Thursday at the White House to discuss the administration’s plan to divide its August 2018 proposal to roll back Obama era standards through 2025 and revoke California’s waiver under the Clean Air Act to set state requirements for vehicles, the sources said.
The meeting included Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow, Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and acting Office and Management and Budget Director Russell Vought, the sources added.
The White House and the agencies declined to comment.
On Tuesday, Wheeler told reporters the administration had not made a final decision to divide the rule into two parts.
Following the meeting, sources said the administration plans to move ahead in coming weeks to divide the final regulation and finalise first the portion dealing with preempting states before issuing the new yearly standards.
The EPA in August 2018 proposed revoking a waiver granted to California in 2013 under the Clean Air Act as part of the Trump administration’s plan to roll back Obama-era fuel economy standards.
Under Trump, federal regulators backed freezing emissions requirements for new cars and trucks at 2020 levels through 2026. Administration officials say its final regulation will include a modest boost in annual efficiency requirements but far less than what the Obama administration set in 2012.
The Obama-era rules called for a fleetwide fuel efficiency average of 46.7 miles per gallon (approximately 20 kilometres per litre) by 2025, with average annual increases of about 5 percent, compared with 37mpg (roughly 16kmpl) by 2026 under the Trump administration’s preferred option to freeze requirements.
Last week, Reuters and other news outlets reported that the US Justice Department is investigating whether the decision of four carmakers in July to reach a voluntary agreement with California to adopt state emissions standards violated antitrust law.
Ford Motor Co, BMW AG, Volkswagen AG and Honda Motor Co struck a deal to adopt standards that were lower than Obama era rules but higher than the Trump administration’s 2018 proposal.
California and other states had promised to enforce stricter Obama-era emissions standards after Trump proposed rolling back the federal rules. Carmakers worry that court battles between state and federal governments could create years of uncertainty.