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Trump bars California from setting stricter fuel standards, Gavin Newsom reacts ‘See you in court’

Trump bars California from setting stricter fuel standards, Gavin Newsom reacts ‘See you in court’

President Donald Trump announced on Wednesday that his administration is revoking the authority of California to set higher standards for car mileage than those issued by federal regulators.

Trump said in a tweet that his action would result in cheaper, safer vehicles. He also anticipated that Americans would buy more new cars, leading to clearer air as older models are removed from the roads.

“The Trump Administration is revoking California’s Federal Waiver on emissions in order to produce far less expensive cars for the consumer, while at the same time making the cars substantially SAFER. This will lead to more production because of this pricing and safety advantage, and also due to the fact that older, highly polluting cars, will be replaced by new, extremely environmentally friendly cars,” the president tweeted.

There will be very little difference in emissions between the California Standard and the new U.S. Standard, but the cars will be far safer and much less expensive. 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,” he added.

Most U.S. automakers favors standards that are lower than the requirements of the Obama era, saying their consumers are gravitating to gas-guzzling SUVs and trucks rather than buying more efficient cars.

Top California officials and environmental groups pledged legal action on Wednesday to stop the rollback, potentially tying up the issue for years in federal courts.

“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.”

What the Trump administration will propose as its final fuel-efficiency rules is not yet clear, but in the past it has favored freezing mileage standards for the Obama-era at 2021 levels. The fleet of new vehicles would have to average 30 mpg in real-world driving by 2021 under the Obama administration requirements, rising to 36 mpg by 2025. The standard at present is 26 mpg.

The Environmental Protection Agency indicates that freezing the fuel economy standards will reduce the average sticker price of new vehicles by about $2,700 by 2025.

The administration also states that lower-cost vehicles would allow more people to buy new ones that are safer, cutting roadway deaths by 12,700 lives through the 2029 model year.

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.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the action of the Trump administration will hurt U.S. automakers as well as American families. He said California is going to fight the federal court administration.

“You have no basis and no authority to pull this waiver,” Becerra, a Democrat, said in a statement, referring to Trump. “We’re ready to fight for a future that you seem unable to comprehend.”

The Justice Department recently launched an antitrust investigation into a deal between California and four major car manufacturers for tougher pollution and related mileage requirements than Trump’s administration sought.

The July agreement between California and four of the world’s biggest car manufacturers—Ford, Honda, BMW, and Volkswagen—ignored Trump’s plan to freeze emissions and fuel economy standards adopted under Obama at 2021 levels.

Justice Department officials believe the agreement could effectively restrict competition by potentially limiting the types of cars and trucks the auto companies offer to consumers, according to people familiar with the department’s thinking. Such an impact of the deal—potentially cutting production of sport-utility vehicles and crossovers that burn more gasoline—could cross legal lines, the people told WSJ.

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