Trump bars California from setting stricter auto mileage standards
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that his administration is revoking California’s authority to set auto mileage standards stricter than those issued by federal regulators, a move critics said would result in less fuel efficient cars that create more planet-warming pollution.
In a tweet, Trump said his action would result in less expensive and safer cars. He also predicted Americans would purchase more new cars, which would result in cleaner air as older models are taken off the roads.
“Many more cars will be produced under the new and uniform standard, meaning significantly more JOBS, JOBS, JOBS! Automakers should seize this opportunity because without this alternative to California, you will be out of business,” Trump tweeted.
U.S. automakers contend that without year-over-year increases in fuel efficiency that align with global market realities their vehicles could be less competitive, potentially resulting in job losses. However, most of the industry favors increases in standards that are less than the Obama-era requirements, contending that consumers are buying less-efficient SUVs and trucks instead of more efficient cars.
Top California officials and environmental groups pledged legal action Wednesday to stop the rollback.
“You can’t get serious about climate change unless you are serious about vehicle emissions, said California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat. “This is such a pivotal moment in the history of the climate change debate.”
It’s not clear what the Trump administration will propose as its final fuel-efficiency rules, but in the past it has favored freezing Obama-era mileage standards at 2021 levels. Under the Obama administration requirements, the fleet of new vehicles would have to average 30 mpg in real-world driving by 2021, rising to 36 mpg in 2025. Currently the standard is 26 mpg.
A study released by Consumer Reports in August found that the owner of a 2026 vehicle will pay over $3,300 more for gasoline during the life of a vehicle if the standards are frozen at 2021 levels.
California’s authority to set its own, tougher emissions standards goes back to a waiver issued by Congress during passage of the Clean Air Act in 1970.