The Trump administration is done trying to negotiate with California, and will move forward with plans to revoke the state of its authority to set tougher fuel efficiency standards.
“At this point, we have to move to finalize,” Andrew Wheeler, head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), stated in a Monday interview with the Washington Examiner. “We don’t have time to move to reopen [negotiations]. We tried to work with California, but we were just not able to. In California, politics was playing the bigger hand than the policy.”
The EPA will introduce its final proposal sometime this spring that strips a waiver California and other states have long used to set tougher vehicle emission standards than the federal government — forcing every state in the U.S. to comply with the same rules.
The move to revoke California of its waiver comes as the Trump administration is also looking to freeze Obama-era efficiency rules meant to cut carbon emissions from the transportation industry. The EPA, along with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is finalizing a proposal to freeze vehicle efficiency standards for cars and light trucks, in lieu of raising them annually.
The White House argues the Obama-era rules render new cars too expensive, and would prompt consumers to rely on older models that are less safe and not as environmentally friendly.
The Trump administration in August first proposed freeing fuel economy standards at 37 miles per gallon in 2020. The EPA and Department of Transportation estimated that the freeze would save $500 billion in societal costs and prevent around 1,000 traffic fatalities a year.
However, that proposal initiated a fight between the White House and California, which has enjoyed authority to set tougher standards than the federal government. California officials and the Trump administration attempted to reach a compromise, but negotiations ended on February 21.
“California didn’t really give us a legitimate counteroffer,” Wheeler continued. “They promised it after a couple weeks of our proposal, and we waited over 12 weeks before we got an answer. The answer we got really isn’t credible.”
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