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California Unveils Proposal To Prevent Weakening Of Air Pollution Policies

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California has consistently been one of the staunchest opponents of U.S. president Donald Trump's environmental policies, and the Trump administration's new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposal may have wide-ranging implications for the future. In particular, the current power struggle may have drastic effects on California's public health and environment.

California has been severely affected by climate change in recent years, having gone through severe prolonged period of droughts and massive wildfires. Being a coastal state, rising sea levels have also been a cause for alarm. Rising temperatures have been linked to various health issues such as rising suicide rates and increased risk of diabetes. The state is known for its strict environmental policies and has been engaged in a power struggle with the current administration due to differences in environmental outlooks.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) proposal was brought about by the recently announced Trump administration plan to roll back several environmental protections that limit automotive air pollution. If the rollbacks push through, automotive vehicle emission standards will be frozen at levels set for the year 2020. Moreover, Trump's new plan could severely neuter California's ability to determine air-quality policies within the state.

California Braces For Air Regulation Battle

California's air regulators fired back with their own proposal aimed at regulating cars and smaller trucks by making sure they meet the state's stringent pollution standards.

"Dirty, gas guzzling vehicles are a direct assault on public health, and foreclose our ability to rein in air pollution and greenhouse gases," said Mary Nichols, the current chair of CARB. The CARB proposal seeks to protect the health of Californians while keeping the state's climate change goals in track.

"California will take all actions to ensure that the smart standards we developed in partnership with the auto industry to cut greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles stay in place."

CARB's current policies, which were put in place last 2012, state that vehicles made between 2017 and 2025 that pass federal regulations are compliant with California state standards. If Trump's rollbacks succeed, however, the current CARB policy may fail to uphold the state's current standards of vehicle air pollution. To combat future changes to the EPA's federal standards, the proposed CARB amendments seek to ensure that automakers selling vehicles in California need to meet the state's own air pollution rules.

If the Trump administration rollbacks push through, vehicles made between the years 2021 and 2025 will need to comply with emission levels set for the year 2020. California's current rules are bound to the EPA's own policies, and CARB states that complying with the proposed EPA changes will result in increased global warming emissions from California vehicles. They estimate the increase in emissions to be around 14 million metric tons in seven years.

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