The Environment Protection Agency is challenging California to conform to the national emission standards, but the repercussions certainly will hurt the state's auto industry.
After EPA chief Scott Pruitt announced on Monday that it is reverting Obama-era's emission and mileage standards, the agency is urging California to change its decade-old standards on air pollution.
Pruitt said that the current administration is not following the former president's approach, allowing California to set its own rules. He emphasized that California's history does not give leeway to other states to follow suit.
Pruitt said that Obama's standards to address climate change are too strict, but California said it will stick to its old and tougher regulations. Aside from California, 12 other states have the same policies inspired by the Clean Air Act.
Experts said California's stern attitude toward EPA's new guidelines could inspire a policy revolt among supporting states. The auto industry could also be catering to two types of market: one that prefers efficiency over the other.
Mary Nichols, chair of the California Air Resources Board, said the Trump administration's attempt to discard tougher emission policies is politically motivated.
Nichols added that the state is willing to "vigorously defend the existing clean vehicle standards." Meanwhile, Xavier Becerra, the state's attorney general, said they are preparing to file a lawsuit against the EPA.
The EPA said that it is a practical decision to reverse Obama's emission rules primarily because car owners are forced to purchase more expensive vehicles.
The agency did not provide details on the extent of the rollback process. However, Pruitt said the changes are necessary to make it more appropriate.
The agency said it has completed a review of auto models for 2022 to 2025, which will require new vehicles to drive 36 miles per gallon. The EPA is working together with the National Highway Safety Administration
Ann Carlson, a professor of environmental law at the UCLA, said EPA's move is unprecedented especially in a state like California where the law has been effective for years.
In Pursuit Of Support
Pruitt's initiative to implement fairly lenient standards was commended by members of the auto industry. Gloria Bergquist, vice president of Communications and Public Affairs for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, agreed with EPA's decision citing increased fuel economy and affordability of cars.
On the one hand, environmentalists are skeptical that EPA's regulation would benefit consumers in the long run. Fred Krupp of the Environmental Defense Fund said the new rule contradicts the reason automakers were able to bounce back from a recession, which is making cleaner cars.
"EPA will set a national standard for greenhouse gas emissions that allows auto manufacturers to make cars that people both want and can afford - while still expanding environmental and safety benefits of newer cars," EPA said in response.