The Trump administration is expected to revoke California’s legal authority to set air pollution standards that are stricter than federal rules, as part of a long-term plan to weaken Obama-era climate policy meant to curb gas emissions from cars.
Tailpipe pollution is the largest source of greenhouse emissions in the United States. California’s right to set stricter rules than the federal government is expected to be formally revoked as the president travels through the state for fundraisers in Los Angeles and Silicon Valley.
As Caitlin McCoy of the Harvard Law School Environmental and Energy Law Program told The Independent last week, the administration is attempting to push the revocation through despite pushback from the auto industry itself.
But the White House has its eyes on a long-term goal: defending their legal efforts to undo these regulations in the Supreme Court, before president Donald Trump leaves office. As with most of the current administration’s sweeping efforts to roll back environmental regulations, the hope is that the rules will be harder, or impossible, to legally reinstate after they leave.
For now, the legal battle will be set. Revoking the state’s waivers will force auto companies to choose whether they’ll side with California’s side, which seeks to slow the destruction of climate change, or the Trump administration’s, which is effectively ignoring the climate crisis. As of July, four major companies have said they’ll side with the state over the federal government.
Thirteen states and the District of Columbia have also vowed to adopt California’s standards.
In a speech on Tuesday to the National Automobile Dealers Association, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler appeared to speak directly to upcoming challenge.
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“We embrace federalism and the role of the states, but federalism does not mean that one state can dictate standards for the nation,” he said.
On the same day, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra vowed to fight the revocation.
“California will continue its advance towards a cleaner future,” he said in a statement. “We’re prepared to defend the standards that make that promise a reality.”